Guinea-Bissau has not adopted a definition of inclusive education.
The 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau includes special education among the special forms of school education. It aims to administer the necessary care to individuals with physical or mental deficiencies and to gifted children.
According to the 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau, special education is intended for children and adolescents who are physically and/or mentally handicapped and for those who are gifted. Special education is to be carried out in regular education establishments as well as in specific establishments depending on the type and degree of disability and the student’s rhythm of learning.
Denominational schools such as madrasas are recognized by the state as special modalities of formal education.
The 1984 Guinea-Bissau Political Constitution (last amended in 1996) decrees that the State will gradually promote free education and equal access opportunities for all students at different levels of education.
The 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau determined that the State must ensure equal access to opportunities and school success for all students.
The 2017–25 education sector plan identified three main objectives: 1) increasing access, equity and completion of educational cycles; 2) improving the quality and relevance of education; and 3) strengthening piloting and governance. Regarding strategies to improve access and equity, priority is given to strategies that reduce geographic, gender or social disparities. The first two cycles of basic education seek to promote the development of an inclusive school that is accessible to all students with specific needs. At the secondary level, work will be done to guarantee equity in education so that children and adolescents are not discriminated against based on their gender, place of origin or socio-economic situation.
A National Policy for Literacy and Non-Formal Education is to be developed to enrol children between 9 and 14 who are out of school and illiterate people over 15 years of age. The objective of the policy is to create an offer adapted to out-of-school students and develop literacy programmes focused on the most vulnerable groups (active women and adolescent girls).
The 2015–20 strategic plan ‘Terra Ranka’ sought to expand and improve access to education with the aim of achieving universal teaching in basic cycles (1 and 2), improving the efficiency of the internal system, reducing inequities in basic and secondary education and adapting technical and vocational training to the current needs of Guinea-Bissau to achieve social and economic development.
International organizations and non-government organizations play a fundamental role in the provision of education services in the country. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the World Bank have been working to improve the quality of education in Guinea-Bissau. About US$15 million will be invested between 2018 and 2023 in a project that seeks to improve the quality of learning and the capacity of teachers at the primary level and to promote community participation in the administration of schools. Likewise, it seeks to make modifications to the curriculum and improve the learning results of students in mathematics and Portuguese. A UNICEF program for equity and quality of education seeks to ensure that all children in all regions have access to inclusive and comprehensive education services.
According to the 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau the State and other public and private entities must support actions in the field of special education for children with physical and/or mental deficiencies and the gifted. Accompaniment and pedagogical complements are to be provided for students with special school needs. Special education is to be carried out in regular education establishments or in specific establishments depending on the type of disability.
Humanity and Inclusion has been supporting the government of Guinea-Bissau to develop programmes that promote the inclusion of children with disabilities in the education system and ensure that they receive an education that is adapted to their needs. To this end, it carries out work in sensitization of education authorities (at national and regional level) on the importance of the inclusion of children with disabilities in schools. Child-Friendly Schools, a comprehensive project of inclusive education together with UNICEF, seeks to identify children with disabilities (in school and out of school), carry out awareness campaigns within the community, strengthen the capacities of teachers and improve the infrastructure of schools. In all, 2,340 children enrolled in 12 schools have benefited from this project, as have teachers, directors and staff of health centres. The project focuses on the Oio and Farim regions.
The Ivan Mañero Foundation has several centres for children with disabilities in Guinea-Bissau, such as Ce-Casulo and the Biombo Workshop School.
The 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau determined that one of the specific objectives of education is to guarantee equal opportunities for both sexes. Sexual and reproductive education is covered in basic education. The 2017–25 education sector plan promotes schooling and retention of girls in the first two cycles of basic education, particularly in regions and sectors where gender disparities are greatest. UNICEF, together with GPE, carried out a programme between 2008 and 2015 to strengthen basic education and gender equality in Guinea-Bissau. The main objective of the programme was to help in the implementation of the main objectives of the 2011–13 Plan for the Development of Education and to achieve universalization and gender parity in primary education through the improvement of education services.
Linguistic and ethnic minorities
According to the 2017–25 education sector plan 82% of the population of Guinea-Bissau belongs to 5 ethnic groups: Fula, Balanta, Mandinga, Manjaco and Papel. Portuguese is the official language of the country; however, it is only spoken by officials and a small segment of the population. Creole is the most widely used language in the country. The National Literacy and Non-Formal Education Policy, developed within the framework of the education sector programme, seeks to develop a language policy document and promote Portuguese, Creole and national languages as languages of education, learning and professional qualification.
The 2017–25 education sector plan seeks to reduce the disparities between rural and urban areas. Its aims are to promote the construction of schools in areas that do not have an adequate number of schools and for the State to gradually take over the operation of community schools and madrasas.
Children with albinism
Children with albinism have benefited from the Guinea-Bissau Inclusive Education Project, implemented by Humanity and Inclusion and financed by UNICEF, the European Union and the French Development Agency.
The Ministry of Education is responsible for conceiving, coordinating and executing the country’s executive policy. As established by the 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau, the ministry must promote an adequate policy of decentralization and deconcentration. The ministry has a central structure and 11 regional delegations. The regional directorates of education are in charge of implementing the education policy at the local level. There is a regional directorate in each of the 11 regions of the country. The government department is responsible for defining general special education regimes, particularly in the pedagogical and technical areas. The General Directorate of Social Action and School Canteen of the Ministry of Education has an Equity Observatory.
There is a steering committee for the 2017–25 education sector plan which is made up of the minister of public service, minister of justice, secretary of state for the budget, secretary of state for the treasury, secretary of state for higher education and scientific research and the adviser to the prime minister in charge of social sectors. An interministerial steering committee was created to monitor the execution of the sector’s programmes and projects.
Infrastructure and services
To guarantee the inclusion of children with disabilities, the 2017–25 education sector plan expects that new schools are equipped with access ramps.
The 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau establishes that curricula, programmes and assessment systems must adapt to each type and degree of disability, as well as the student’s pace of learning.
Learning materials and ICT
According to the 2017–25 education sector plan the State will promote distance learning through the use of multimedia and information technology or communication. Distance learning can be provided at any education level and can serve as a complement to regular learning or alternative learning.
The 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissau defines the guidelines for teacher training for special education. It is established that the qualification for teaching in special education belongs to early childhood educators and teachers who have satisfactorily completed the special courses, or the courses given in specialized training schools. Humanity and Inclusion has worked on the training of teachers and school principals, particularly in the Oio region.
There is no mechanism for the reporting and monitoring of inclusive education at the national level.