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Educational Development for the Disabled

IT Project at Srisangwan School for Disabled Children

Continuing efforts targeting the disabled that were started by her grandmother, the late HRH Princess Srinakharin (the Queen Mother), HRH Princess Sirindhorn has especially emphasized the importance of providing children with tools that meet their specific needs and that can effectively improve their quality of life and accelerate their development. Many of the children who come to the Foundation for the Welfare of the Crippled and attend Srisangwan School for the Disabled need both physical assistance devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers, as well as learning tools to enhance their writing, reading, and speaking skills.

The Princess’ IT Project Executive Committee has worked with Srisangwan School at length to establish computer training programs for both teachers and students. In 1998, the School became part of the IT for the Disabled Programme under the Princess’ IT Project. As part of the Programme, computers were donated to the school and a computer room set up. However, the team soon realized that having a separate computer room for children with limited mobility was impractical, so computers were placed in the regular classrooms, 10 in each for grades 1 to 6.

Impact

Since the extra computers were added, the Programme has been a great success. The computer skills of the students at Srisangwan School have been shown to be of the same standard as those of non-disabled students, and the teachers are capable of using computer-assisted instruction programs to support their own teaching.

Special assistance has also been provided for the individual children at Srisangwan School, particularly those with cerebral palsy, who have difficulty in speaking, reading, and writing. At the prompting of the Princess, the National Electronic and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) has provided training for teachers at Srisangwan School on how to assess the capabilities of disabled children in order to identify the most appropriate assistance for them, and on how to effectively utilize IT tools for working with disabled children. The school also receives support from physical therapists, speech therapists, special educationists, and computer instructors to create individual curricula to suit each child’s special needs and physical abilities.

IT for Disabled Students at Kawila Anukul School

Kawila Anukul School is a school for children with learning difficulties in Chiang Mai province. HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has been a regular visitor at this and other special needs schools in Chiang Mai. In 1996, Kawila Anukul School became part of the IT for Rural Schools Programme. The school initially received a gift from the Programme of four computers and one normal television set that could be connected to one of the computers. Kawila Anukul then set up a computer workshop and a general computer classroom; three of the donated computers were installed in the workshop and the other, which was connected to the television set, was placed in the general computer classroom.

Impact
Since joining the IT for Rural Schools Programme, the school has made continuous progress in the area of IT for educating children with disabilities. For example, computer courses are now a standard component of the school curriculum in all grades. In 2000, the school received 10 additional personal computers, one server, and CAI software from Her Royal Highness. In 2003, one additional computer workshop room was set up with a donation of 10 more computers from the IT for Rural Schools Programme. In addition to this computer workshop facility, the Programme has also constructed an IT-assisted classroom at Kawila Anukull. In this classroom, computers are used as a teaching aid together with other technologies that make it possible for students with writing, speech, or learning difficulties to learn and develop necessary skills.

The support HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn has given to children with disabilities has certainly not been in vain. A student from Kawila Anukul School was recently able to compete with other students from regular schools in a computer competition, and won a silver medal. Her Royal Highness has not only provided the children at Kawila Anukul School with computers and software, but she has also given them new lives filled with hope and pride.

Yutthapong Sitthifong is a grade 10 student at Kawila Anukul School. He started taking computer classes in grade 4, shortly after the school received computers and CAI software from the Princess’s IT Project. His first encounters with computers began with CAI applications that helped him to use the computer mouse. Within a few years, Yutthapong became highly proficient at using computers and was able to help his fellow students.

Yutthapong was selected to be the school’s representative in the computer contest at the science and technology day organized by four secondary schools in Chiang Mai in 2002. He won a silver medal for his use of Microsoft Excel 97. Furthermore, in Kawila Anukul’s recent open-house event, Yutthapong delivered a presentation he had created using Microsoft PowerPoint before the school committee, parents, and students.

“I really like learning computers because they make work easier and quicker.” —Yutthapong Sitthifong