People, Research

Visiting scholar brings international inclusion expertise to Faculty

December 09, 2020
BY GERRY RUCCHIN

One of Cameroon’s leading advocates for the rights of marginalized communities and children with special needs is a visiting scholar at the Faculty of Education – and he’s looking at bringing an international perspective to Canadian classrooms.

Professor Ndame Thomas chose Canada to continue his research because it’s similar to his native Cameroon. Each nation has 10 provinces or regions and both have English and French as official languages. What’s more, Thomas chose Western because the university has a strong reputation for high-quality research as well as the strength of the Faculty of Education’s academic programs and its seasoned and friendly staff. He added the Faculty has resourceful research centres where he will achieve his scholarly goals.

“I hope to continue doing some comparative studies during my time here, especially in the areas of national policy framework and implementation for community inclusion, bilingual special education and inclusive education,” said Thomas.

Thomas began his career as a secondary school teacher. After 10  years in the classroom, he entered graduate school and completed the following: a postgraduate diploma in English/French language education and a master’s degree in teaching French. He also has a second master’s degree in special education in Sweden as well as a doctorate in the United Kingdom. He is a full-time lecturer of special/inclusive education and supervisor of undergraduate and master theses at the State University of  Buea and part-time lecturer at two other universities in Cameroon since 2014.

As part of his work, Thomas focuses on practical strategies that advance school- and community-based service-delivery projects to bolster initiatives in the field of special and inclusive education.

In particular, upon completion of his studies in the UK and return to Cameroon in 2012, Thomas discovered that practical inclusion was underdeveloped in Cameroon. With colleagues, he started a community-based inclusive education organization, the Multipurpose Support Association Centre (MUPUSUAC) to help enhance the inclusion of children with disabilities, or who have difficulties and disadvantages in school and community life. The organization advocates for the marginalised through social media, print, radio and television. The group also mobilizes resources, training and involved stakeholders, such as staff, parents and a multi-agency taskforce  in support service delivery. 

The MUPUSUAC also assesses needs and designs individual /group education plans for learners with special needs and monitors their progress in various local community schools. Furthermore, school and weekend learning support programs have been initiated to support such category of learners. 

“An in-service teacher program was launched to train local schoolteachers to manage student diversity through curriculum adaptation, teaching differentiation, classroom management and environmental adaptation,” said Thomas.

Eventually, the organisation started cooperating with local special-teacher training institutions and other community-based services across some regions in the country. The organization also created the Landywood Inclusive Nursery and Primary school, which functions as a community-based inclusive school in Buea, Cameroon. Other activities of MUPUSUAC include a multi-agency unit that cooperates with other community-based specialist health, social welfare and psychological services that enhance the wellbeing and learning of children with special needs, he said.

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