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ESCCOM partners with UNESWA and the Ministry of Education to host an Online Facilitation workshop for special education practitioners.

Published on : 16 May, 2022

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COVID-19 posed several challenges for the country’s education system over the past 2 years. The reliance on ICTs to enable continuing education was unavoidable, and teachers had to transition from face-to-face teaching to digital means. Part of the Commission’s mandate is to ensure that electronic communications services are made available at the specified quality, to all end-users in Eswatini including those living with disabilities, irrespective of geographical location, and at an affordable price. This makes people living with disabilities one of the main beneficiaries of the Universal Access Service Funds and the reason the Commission partnered with the Ministry of Education and UNESWA for capacity building amongst special needs educators with online teaching skills to embrace and promote inclusive education in Eswatini’s schools.

On the 28th of March, the Certificate in Online Teaching for Educators (COTE) program was launched at Pigg’s Peak Hotel. The launch was officiated by the Under Secretary (US) in the Ministry of Education, Lungelo Nhlengetfwa. The US was representing the Principal Secretary in the Ministry. The launch was also attended by the representative of UNESWA’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Henry Gadaga, the Director for the Institute of Distance Education (IDE), Professor Cosmas Maphosa, the Director for UAS, Mbongeni Mtshali, the Director for Technical Services, Mr. Thulani Fakudze, Inspectors from the Ministry of Education, UNESWA IDE staff and special needs educators from across the country.

In his remarks, the Director for UAS, Mbongeni Mtshali stated that as a Fund, this was not the first time that they have supported such an initiative and that they had established a strong relationship with the Ministry of Education. The partnership to support schools and children with special needs has seen the Fund purchase end-user devices to make learning easier and digitized teaching aids for the School for the Deaf. “As an ICT-inclined entity, it is the Commission’s wish that ICTs be adopted as teaching tools as the whole world is now digitizing” he shared.

The Under Secretary from the Education Ministry extended their appreciation to ESCCOM for the continued support to realize the inclusion of children with special needs and disabilities in the education sector through the provision of assistive technology that helps to improve the learning experience for Eswatini’s learners.

Professor Maphosa stated that the COTE program was crafted in response to the changing needs of the country and the region as they transition from face-to-face contact teaching to online teaching requires training and support of all educators. He outlined the whole program on what it entails and what the educators should expect after going through it. This program ensures the inclusion of those educators who deal with learners with special needs as the need for inclusivity in education is critical and in line with the social justice principle.

The Certificate in Online Teaching for Educators program is a fully online program that is practically oriented as students will only learn by doing and experiencing learning online. The program is made up of four courses namely;

• Designing and developing online courses

• Developing digital learning materials

• Developing online facilitation skills

• Designing authentic online assessment

Upon completion of this course, educators are expected to be able to incorporate technologies in diverse learning environments. It will enhance their skills of identifying learners’ special needs and their ability to assist according to the specific need.

The one-week workshop at Pigg’s Peak Hotel had 30 participants from schools across Eswatini, and the training will run over 6 weeks. The second phase which will take 5 weeks will be conducted online followed by certification.