Perkins trains teachers in Latin America

Online course equips special educators with skills for teaching children with multiple disabilities

A teacher erases a blackboard.

A teacher at Escuela Panamericana, a public school in Córdoba, Argentina.

November 28, 2017

Nineteen special educators from Latin America have graduated from Perkins International’s certified training course in multiple disabilities and deafblindness.

The Perkins International Academy course, which was conducted online in partnership with Universidad Católica de Córdoba in Argentina, included participants from Argentina, Paraguay, Mexico and Peru.

The five-month course ended Nov. 5. Trainees worked at their own pace by listening to audio lectures, filing written assignments and participating in group discussions. They each submitted an online portfolio, documenting the real-life application of their new knowledge and skills in the classroom.

“These 19 graduates now possess a deeper understanding of how to deliver high-quality instruction for children with multiple disabilities,” said Gloria Rodriguez-Gil, Perkins International’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Students in four countries are already reaping the benefits of this training.”

Launched at the United Nations earlier this year, Perkins International Academy seeks to increase the world’s supply of well-trained special educators as part of U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 4, which calls for a quality education for all children – including those with multiple disabilities – by the year 2030.

Perkins International Academy trainings have already been conducted in Argentina, El Salvador, India and Indonesia. A new course is underway in Mexico and a country-wide training initiative in Russia is scheduled to start in early 2018. The courses have been offered both in-person and online, depending on the needs of the educators.

Worldwide, there are 6 million children and young adults with multiple disabilities and visual impairment in need of special education. According to the U.N., this population is among the world’s most vulnerable – and the least likely to receive an education.

In developing countries, where resources are scarce and poverty can be widespread, educational programs for children with multiple disabilities are often insufficient or nonexistent. Without proper training, teachers can struggle to meet students’ unique learning needs, leaving them on the margins of society.

To combat this challenge, Perkins International is partnering with governments around the globe to improve multiple disability education.

Rodriguez-Gil said she is encouraged by the support Perkins International has received from Ministries of Education in Latin America.

“They are seeing Perkins International Academy as part of the solution,” she said. “We have a great reputation and history in the region. They see us as partners.”

This is the second time an online Perkins International Academy course has been conducted in Argentina. A previous pilot course was held online in 2016, also in partnership with Universidad Católica de Córdoba.

“It’s a demanding course,” said Rodriguez-Gil. “Participants are able to access the material at their own pace. They all have jobs during the day, and many have limited ability to travel. So online learning offers the flexibility they need.”