This past February, Perkins International brought its certified teacher training course to Egypt, equipping more than 30 educators to help children with multiple disabilities and sensory loss.
The effort not only yielded positive results, it highlighted the benefits that come when nonprofit and government organizations collaborate effectively.
Held in the capital city of Cairo, Perkins School for the Blind partnered with the Nida Society, a nonprofit early intervention center in the country, and Egypt’s Ministry of Education to conduct the two-week course, known as Perkins International Academy (PIA). It was taught by Martha Majors, deafblind education director at Perkins, and Maii Amen, a graduate of Perkins’ Educational Leadership Program.
“The Nida Society, with support from the Ministry, really wants to create a model school and develop programs for MDVI and deafblind education in Egypt,” said Majors. “They are a very driven, impressive group and this type of collaboration will help them reach their goals.”
Perkins launched PIA in June of last year to help world governments meet their commitments to the U.N.’s stated goal of providing every child, including those with disabilities, with an “inclusive and quality” education by 2030. Since, Perkins has taught the course all over the world, training teachers in Latin America, Central America, Russia, Indonesia and elsewhere. In January, the organization offered the course in Nigeria, making its African debut before moving on to Egypt.
The Academy syllabus, though consistent in all countries, is individualized for each culture, tailor-made to meet demands specific to each country and community where it’s taught. In Egypt, Majors said, they placed an emphasis on developing an awareness of MDVI and deafblindness.
“The teachers were new to this level of talking about kids, so that required ongoing discussion every day,” she said. “From the course point of view, it meant giving them more specific examples because concrete ideas help when it comes to teaching in new ways. We want them to understand the many different ways students with MDVI or deafblindness can learn.”
Specifically, participating teachers learned how to develop theme-based education blueprints.
“They were excited about creating new curriculum because in the Middle East they teach very traditional curriculum,” added Majors. “We had a lot of work on how you can teach skills based on a theme, and the practices and possibilities got them really excited.”
Prior to the launching its flagship Academy, Perkins International has been working in Africa for years, in partnership with both schools and government bodies to help develop programs and curriculums across the continent.
With the launch of the Academy, however, Perkins is deepening its roots across the continent. The organization will return to Egypt this July for another Academy course, continuing its mission of building the supply of trained teachers both there and around the world.