An all-star cast of teacher trainers from 16 countries has assembled this week on the campus of Perkins School for the Blind.
Their mission is ambitious: to help end the global shortage of qualified special educators through Perkins International Academy training courses.
“Children with multiple disabilities need well-trained teachers,” said Trudy Segbefia, director of the Demonstration School for the Deaf in Ghana. “That’s why we’re here at Perkins – to build on our collective expertise and share it with the world.”
Launched last month at the United Nations, Perkins International Academy aims to equip 1 million teachers by 2030 with the knowledge and skills they need to effectively teach students with multiple disabilities and deafblindness.
To reach that goal, Perkins International is building a global team of certified teacher trainers. Today, Segbefia and 20 other trainers will receive their certifications at the conclusion of a week-long training institute held on the Perkins campus.
“We’ve brought together the world’s best trainers in our field,” said Marianne Riggio, who manages both Perkins International Academy and the Educational Leadership Program (ELP). “After our U.N. launch, this week really represents lift off for the Academy. Our team is working hard and really digging into the curriculum.”
The Perkins International Academy trainers have wide-ranging expertise. There are veteran classroom teachers and principals, university professors, trainers from various national ministries of education and even the dean of an optometry college.
The group includes 17 graduates of Perkins International’s flagship ELP, a nine-month advanced training program for special educators and related professionals.
Children with multiple disabilities and visual impairment remain among the world’s most vulnerable and least likely to receive an education.
In developing countries, where resources are scarce, educational programs for children with multiple disabilities are often insufficient or nonexistent. Without proper training, teachers can struggle to meet their unique learning needs.
Perkins International Academy seeks to increase the world’s supply of well-trained special educators as part of U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 4.
Pilot training courses were completed in India and Argentina in late 2016. A second course in Argentina is currently underway in partnership with Catholic University of Córdoba. Riggio said more training courses are slated to begin this fall.
“These trainers are our ambassadors,” said Riggio. “The next step is delivering Perkins International Academy around the world.”