USAID PRIORITAS - Jakarta. Inclusive education and gender mainstreaming are some of the cross-cutting issues which are integrated in USAID PRIORITAS activities. To obtain input in these areas and gain an overview of the current situation, USAID PRIORITAS has conducted a perception and capacity assessment in the partner districts which included inclusive education and gender issues in education. The assessment was carried out by FGD (Focus Group Discussions) and interviews involving personnel from district education and religious affairs offices and from schools.
Although an inclusive education program was initiated by the government in 2006, there are still many partner districts without any schools which provide inclusive education. Inclusive education in those districts has not become a priority in planning educational programs at district or school levels. Only a small proportion of districts have actually included inclusive education in their strategic and work plans and budgets.
Collaboration between district offices and outside parties such as local universities and NGOs to improve the quality of inclusive education is rare. The operational funding and facilities for infrastructure for the development of inclusive schools are insufficient. In terms of planning and database building, not all district offices segregate data by sex. Focal point groups and working groups on gender mainstreaming, expected to be a driving force in the districts, have proved ineffective. Nearly half of the working groups initially established for the purpose are no longer active.
Based on the assessment result, USAID PRIORITAS has recommended the following activities with some highlights on several key aspects:
1. To increase understanding and awareness of education district officers and schools about gender and inclusive education issues through activities such as socialization, training, workshops, and other capacity building activities.
2. To increase the capacity of school principals to adapt school policy and planning accordingly, including gender responsive budgeting.
3. To build coordination and cooperation among local organizations working on gender and inclusive education issue as well as at national level, to bring learners with special needs access to education services which is both inclusive and gender responsive.
4. To advocate for policies and budgets to create infrastructure and provide equipment and materials to support gender and inclusive education, based on existing needs data.