The St. Rita Professional Development Academy(SRPDA)
The St. Rita ProfessionalDevelopment Academy (SRDPA)
St. Rita's teachers were exposed to different challenges presented by the children who are living with developmental disabilities. In order to ensure effective teaching of St. Rita's students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms, it became imperative to provide teachers with necessary training to facilitate and enhance the teaching & learning process in St. Rita. Thus, the conception of “The St. Rita Professional Development Academy” (SRPDA). The most important aspect of SRPDA is the preparation of general education teachers’ pedagogical skills in inclusive classrooms and enhance their confidence in educating all children in their classrooms.
SRPDA is a blended learning model connecting educational experts in the specialty domains of Special Education, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech and Language Therapy from the USA with the teachers of St. Rita’s via online teaching or distant education. Additionally, we have Online Teaching and Designing professionals to facilitate the interaction between the USA domain experts and the professional development recipients at St. Rita. SRPDA is housed by Moodle space as the platform for successful and effective interaction between experts and participants. Using a range of communication tools, USA experts are presenting content and engaging the participants in Cameroon in discussion forums. Some of the tools include Zoom videoconferencing and WhatsApp. Thus, the move toward inclusion has prompted the recognition that changes must occur in schools and community settings, curriculum and instruction, the roles and manner of the preparation of teachers.
SRPDA’s greatest strength is the range of new experiences that are available to the parents and teachers working with their students with disabilities. Even though it was meant for the teachers only, we have had to integrate interested parents into the program. Both parents and teachers participating in the SRPDA program have reported an incredibly enriching experience that other teachers and parents working with students with disabilities in Cameroon do not have. It’s safe to say that the St. Rita Nursery and Primary Inclusive School and The St. Rita Professional Development Academy are setting the pace for Inclusive Education practices in Cameroon.
Hopefully, with this innovative combination of Inclusive Education and teacher preparation programs for inclusive classrooms settings in Cameroon, the way has been paved for educational reforms that will benefit children with disabilities in Cameroon.