Summary Annual Report - Senese Inclusive Education

Summary Annual Report - Senese Inclusive Education

Summary Annual Report


SENESE Inclusive Education

Support Services is a not for

profit Inclusive Education service

provider organisation focused

on empowering children with

disabilities, their families and the

communities they live in and

are educated within. The range

of specialist services available

at SENESE has expanded and

benefits hundreds of children

a year. These services are

delivered by a range of qualified


Services are provided from two

permanent sites but serve families

and children throughout Samoa.

Using face to face services

combined with modern technology.


Welcome to SENESE’s 2011

annual report which we hope will

both inform you about our work

and inspire you. We are proud of

our achievements, and would like

to thank those who have helped

us throughout the year including

our members for their support and

voluntary input; each member

of SENESE’s board for strategic

advice and input; our partners for

their incredible work and of course

our donors for both their financial

and advisory support.

We recognise that for a child to

be included in his home, village

community and school, that

SENESE work must centre around

supporting the needs of the family

and working with them to improve

the systems that their child wants

to be included in.

This year we have continued to

work with partners in Samoan

and Australia, to carry out our


I trust that you will enjoy reading

the highlights of our 2011 year

Misiuepa was excluded from school

because of an accident that left him blind.


SENESE has worked with Amoa Secondary

College to establish support and see him

back at school in year 9.

For more information about

our work,please visit www.

Rev Mafi Oloapu



Vision and mission

Our vision

The learning environment at

regular preschool, primary,

secondary and nominated

outreach schools that SENESE

partners with, will be barrier free

and provide high quality learning

for a diverse range of learning

styles and abilities including

children with disabilities.

Our mission

To establish and strengthen

a national model of Inclusive

Education for children with

disabilities and their families

0-18 years, that facilitates the

cooperation between SENESE

and other educational and health

organizations, teachers, parents

and students. This model will

result in high quality learning

environment for all students.

Our guiding principles

Our centre is important as it

addresses the identified need to

educate ALL children including

children with disabilities who

because of a historic lack of

targeted support are considered

vulnerable. Access to quality

education is considered a

fundamental basic human right. In

providing support to government

and non government educational

centres. The process will be

recorded and shared Nationally

and regionally. In assisting

MESC to provide support to urban

and rural based government

schools, SENESE will gain

significant capacity throughout

this process.

SENESE is based on the

following underlining concepts:

Inclusion of all members of our

Samoan society is essential

to human dignity and the

development of full human


Inclusive schools benefit ALL

children and help to create

inclusive societies.

All children have a wide

diversity of characteristics and


Difference is normal and

should be valued.

The School learning

environment needs to

accommodate ALL children.

Children with disabilities

should be able to attend the

school of their choice and it

is the school’s responsibility

to provide an inclusive


Community participation is

essential to inclusion and must

be appropriately planned and


Child centered pedagogy is

central to inclusion.

Access to quality education

breaks the cycle of poverty that

people with disabilities often


The Year in Review

SENESE‘s work continued to expand in 2011 with a

skilled staff of 61 people we provided programs in the

following areas:

Early Learning for families of children from birth to

5 years, rose to support 30 families and children

Primary Inclusive Education Support to primary

aged children increased to support 80 students in

over 59 primary schools

Secondary: Onsite Inclusion program with

Faatuatua Christian Secondary School increased

to 26 Students. Our program also supports three

students in Amoa and St Josephs secondary


Deaf Services, 40 deaf adult members providing

weekly meetings and support to families of deaf


Vision Screening Services 47 schools have a

trained teacher able to screen for vision problems

in students

Samoa Vision Services: 10 – 20 customers a day/

Children able to receive testing and spectacles

locally. MOU with national Health Services

Audiological Services: Over 100 children fitted

with high quality hearing aids and over 50 children

screened for possible hearing impairments.

Capacity building Samoa Special Olympics, the

athlete database grew to close to 200 with regular

training and competitions in villages as well as

National Monthly games.

Promotion & Awareness campaign, saw National

television and newspaper campaigns around

disability awareness inclusive education and

International Day for People with disabilities

SENESE televised an advertisement during International Day for People

with Disabilities that featured the students from the secondary program.

Saanapu Primary School includes all...

When a school embarks on an Inclusive

Education process, that school commits to

change. The changes are many and from all

levels within the school. Changes in how a

principal enrols all students, changes in how

a class teacher sets up group work in the

classroom and changes in how the school

community engages with all families including

those who have a child with a disability. This

has been the case for 50 schools in Samoa that

SENESE Inclusive Education Support Services

funded under the AusAID Inclusive Education

Demonstration Program have witnessed. Many

stories of positive change exist within the walls

of each of these schools. Let’s just take a

look at a couple of these. On the other side of

Upolu nestled just above the claws of the recent

Tsunami is the small school of Saanapu village.

This rural school of approximately 200 students

has confidently embarked on the pathway of

inclusive education. The school has successfully

included two children with disabilities. Tuli is

a smart young boy attending year one at this

village school. He is confident as he makes his

way to class or down to the assembly area using

his white cane. Tuli is supported in class by his

cousin Shanna. Shana has been selected as

his teacher aide and has undergone intensive

training from SENESE in how to support the

learning of a person who is blind. Shana also

learns strategies for home that will help Tuli be

included in all activities in his village. The school

is visited by SENESE staff every fortnight and

Shana and Tuli also come in one afternoon a

week to conduct a video conference to The Royal

Institute for Deaf and Blind Children in Sydney

Australia. During these sessions Shana and

SENESE staff discuss Tuli’s program, share

developments and address challenges and areas

of concern. Shana commented recently, “These

sessions and support from SENESE give me the

confidence to try new things and reassure me

that I am on the right track.” There have been

changes in the children who attend Tuli’s school

as well. Shana reports that Tuli is never short of a

guide and the other children really enjoy talking to

Tuli and listening to him sing and tell jokes. They

are learning to Braille with Tuli and can read his


The principal of the school is very proud of

their achievements as he said himself, “Tuli is a

Sa’anapu boy and has the right to go to school

with his friends and cousins. He adds a lot to our

school and has given us the opportunity to learn

more and work with the SENESE team.”

Tuli’s grandmother Luisa is delighted that Tuli

is able to go to school in the local village as

previously that would have had to travel 45

minutes to Apia and were considering sending

Tuli to New Zealand to gain an education. That

has all changed now.............. More stories like



To make

changes that

are significant

and lasting



its local and


partners. Utilising the Australian Volunteer

scheme to provide an opportunity to

help build a skilled work force SENESE

has had the very best volunteers working

along side local staff.


A Special Partnership with RIDBC

• The VIDA project sending and supporting

Russell Watts, Caroline Conlon & Ben Clare

to work as volunteers in Samoa.

• Providing audiology services to deaf

children in Samoa – a collaboration between

Senese and RIDBC.

• Facilitating RIDBC Teleschool services to

three deaf children and one blind child.

• Providing consultative support in program

and facility development.

• Operating “shadowing programs” for a

number of Senese staff who have stayed on

site at RIDBC and learnt from RIDBC staff.

• Providing scholarships for study in

deafness at RIDBC Renwick Centre.

SENESE has worked diligently to assist

Special Olympics Samoa to build capacity

and realize an improved situation for people

with Intellectual disabilities. SENESE was

part of the Special Olympics movement that

saw 8 athletes compete in the fi rst World

Summer games in Athens.

Our Achievements


works with




in getting



in regular


supporting the

young athletes

program for

children 2-7

and parent



…..For me the games have

proven time and time again

the human capacity for

change. Every journey worth

taking begins with a single

step, I hope this journey of

change for the better is one

that will never end.

But for now the Athletes

are returning home to their

villages. Donna asked me to

tell you not to be surprised

if you see them still wearing

their medals. She asked

me to ask you if you do see

them go up and shake their

hands and ask them about


Share in their victory not

only because they were very

proud Samoans representing

their country in the fi nest

way, the only way a Samoan

knows how to but because

their victory is our victory as

a nation, and who would not

want to share in that?

From here the journey will

continue...not only for the

athletes in their homes

and in their villages but at

their monthly games. It is

these monthly games that

will continue this journey

of change not only for the

athletes but for all of Samoa.

SENESE & Special Olympics

are agents of change.

Postcard from CEO Digicel

who supported Special

Olympics Samoa



The Dawn of A New Day

Lene’s amazing achievements are not a dream

but a blessing from heaven. I am high in my

emotions and I cry out like the cry of Ruth to

Naomi. ‘I will follow you until the day I die’.

In the light of this journey, knowledge of

Lene’s disability was not a seed that fell on

soft ground, especially in the hearts of Lene’s

parents and grandparents. However, with much

determination and encouragement from one

of our family members to continue the search,

our family gave in. A female specialist from

Australia for children with disabilities came to

visit Lene.

It did not take long for our journey to bear

fruits, as we saw swift changes in Lene’s daily

life and especially his educational life. It was

hard at first because we did not understand

Lene’s disability, it was even harder because

we did not know how to communicate with

him as he could not speak .But by far the most

challenging for us was his temper, it made it

clear to us that Lene has a disability.

“The dawn of a new day” for me though was

when the government especially SENESE

introduced ‘Inclusive Education’, a new era for

us as we saw our children with disabilities take

their seats in the regular classrooms. It is the

greatest joy for Lene’s parents, grandparents

and our entire family to see Lene take his place

with other children in the classroom as we now

know that he will get the same chances as the

other children thus gaining more in life. There

are a number of exciting programs introduced

to us by SENESE including home visits by

special teams as well as school visits.

In the classroom, Lene could play with his

classmates, he can talk, sing various songs

especially songs that he hears on the radio

and TV. and also the songs that are sung every

morning in class. He could control his temper

now. He can count 1 – 10, recite the Samoan

alphabet from ‘A –R’. He can now perceive

sounds and countless other things he could

do since he joined this wonderful program.

Lene is a very bright child. My humble prayer

is that God continues to shower Lene with his

heavenly blessings and that His Holy Spirit will

guide his future as I strongly believe, God never

forsakes his people.

Written by: Tupaepae Simi.

Adult winner in our Successful

stories of Inclusive Education


Our Achievements

Graduates of the

secondary program

Leone Peteru and

Melissa Resitala, now

employed at Aggies


The range of services and professionals provided through

SENESE is unique in Samoa. We work with children and their

families in their homes and at the schools the children are

included into. We also provide school to work transition for

students completing Secondary School.

In 2011, SENESE provided support to 136 children and their

families across Samoa. At year’s end, children with significant

physical, intellectual, autism vision and or hearing loss were

benefiting from SENESE’s range of services.

SENESE operated from campuses at Vaitele for the secondary

program and Moto’otua for all other programs. SENESE works

with children from birth to the end of school and then provides

transition to work programs.

Our Achievements


SENESE continued to


technological solutions

to overcome the


associated with living

in isolated rural areas

ensuring families have

access to the same


services available in

the major cities and

overseas countries.

Through one-onone

sessions via


families with children

who have received

cochlear implants are

able to access the expert

support of RIDBC.

Teleschool and SENESE

staff on a weekly baiss.

At the end of 2011, 4

children received this additional support through a pilot

program. These same four children are able to have their

internally inserted cochlear implant electrodes remotely

adjusted using broadband internet.

SENESE also provides opportunities for children

with vision impairment to have access to the latest

technology to assist them in their learning environments.

At Saleapaga Primary school a satellite dish and

computer centre was installed that allows all school

students to access the internet. It also allows SENESE

staff another medium for providing support to the school

through regular email and skype chats.

Blessings in Disguise

God created all people including people

with disabilities and he loves all of us


My school at Saleapaga is a good

example of this. This year is a special one

for my school.

Gifts have been poured in for us from

different sources after the Tsunami hit


We have been blessed with special gifts

in the form of computers where we can

have access to internet and e-mails.

Things that we could only wish for are

now made easy and available for us

because of our brother, Uaealesi, who

has a disability.

Who would have thought that my simple

Saleapaga School would be put on a

pedestal for how we include people with


I do not distinguish the deaf from those

with good hearing, the blind from the

sighted ones, or people with intellectual

disability from people without


Everyone is the same at my school.

We eat together, play and work together

because we all are one.

Families overseas are surprised when I

communicate with them through e-mail.

Yes, my Saleapaga school is no longer a

distant and remote village but it is up in

the sky.

I also participate in high school

competitions because all is made

easy through the use of the internet.


Thank you to SENESE for your


We fully support education for all.

By Chris Tavai Neueli.

Year 8 Saleapaga Primary School

(one of the 25 winners in the Story

of Success Inclusive Education

Writing Competition)



Students with vision

problems find missing pieces

When 11 year-old Jordan Faasisila of Sataoa Safata

was referred to the vision screening programme of

Senese Inclusive Education Centre he was attending

the local primary school in his village.

But it’s an experience he did not particularly enjoy or

look forward to. Jordan contracted rheumatic fever

at an early age and resulted in acute vision loss to

add to the other physical symptoms of the fever.

According to his mother Aiaifua Afemata Faasisila,

Jordan found it extremely difficult to read or focus

on his school work for longer periods of time. She

says Jordan would often look at the books for

a while, and then he would walk away. All that

changed in October last year when he was referred

to the programme.

Jordan was examined by the eye clinic and he

was given a pair of glasses that according to his

mother, have changed his life dramatically, and

how he deals with his school work. “I cannot speak

for his teachers and his school. But ever since my

son received his glasses, I see a huge change. He

is reading more, and able to concentrate on his

homework longer when he is at home. The glasses

have helped him to maintain his interest in reading”

said the relieved mother. Jordan’s use of his glasses

is not limited to going to school and home.

According to his mother, he wears them to Sunday

school, to church and basically everywhere he goes.

Jordan’s mother also encouraged parents of children

with vision problems not to be disheartened as there

is help available for their children, through eye tests

and the provision of eye glasses.

“We as parents must be alert and seek specialist help

for our children with vision problems, so they will

not miss out on a good future like their peers.”

Another young student who has benefited from the

use of glasses is Olioli Iosefo. Olioli Iosefo from the

village of Safotu Savaii is 12 years-old and has Low

Vision. According to the reports from the initial

visits to the student, she stopped going to school

when her parents and teacher found out that she

has problems with her sight.

In July last year Olioli was given a pair of +2.00

glasses, to everyone’s surprise, Olioli started flipping

through a book and started pointing and naming

things that she was looking at. The glasses were

then given to Olioli as a gift. She was enrolled in the

Sacred Heart’s Primary School in Safotu late last

year and according to her teacher Fetineia’i Pese,

the student has great potential.

“Olioli is now able to point out letters and objects,

and work on the resources provided by the team.

She enjoys taking part in the interschool activities

like singing and dancing. I believe there is a good

chance that she can progress further given patience

and understanding” said Fetina’i.

There are no doubt plenty of students like Olioli

and Jordan who are on the verge of missing out

on a good education. But that will no longer be

the case with our vision screening programme for

early detection of vision difficulties, and the Samoa

vision centre now opened for eye checks and the

prescription of glasses. The Samoa vision Centre

opens from 8 to 4 Mondays to Friday.

Our Achievements

Vision Services

Vision Services

In 2011, SENESE partnered with MESC and RIDBC and trained

47 teachers to conduct vision screening in their respective schools.

A referral pathway was established for children who failed vision


Eleven students who have been identified through the program are

now receiving education support through SENESE.The project also

included the upgrading of vision clinics in collaboration with local

government and not-for-profit agencies.

Our Achievements

Audiological Services

SENESE coordinated

with the National Health

Services the delivery

of three hearing

assessment clinics

throughout 2011.

Children from regular

schools and special

schools attend these

clinics. The clinics

were greatly assisted

through the team of

audiologists who visit from RIDBC Australia, Professor

Phillip Newall, Cristy Newall and Genelle Cook.

Close to 100 children were tested and over 60 fitted

with high quality hearing aids.

SENESE now has two trained hearing aid technicians

who help keep children’s hearing aids working despite

the humidity of Samoa.

Technology restores the

gift of hearing

Uaealesi Vi’iga is back after being away

in Australia for five weeks to receive an

operation to help him to hear again. Uaealesi

lost his hearing when he was 7-years-old

after he contracted meningitis. He had been

fitted with hearing aids but these were not

strong enough.

So Uaealesi was accompanied by his father

Viiga Fa’atoia to Westmead Hospital, in

Sydney, where the operation took place.

There, the father was also trained to help his

son with his rehabilitation of learning to listen

and to speak again.

“Thank you to SENESE who have helped us

and made us aware of this wonderful program

and now my son is able to fully participate in

school and at home,” says Vi’iga.

“Now his hearing impairment is no longer a

barrier to full inclusion in school and home

life.” Uaealesi is the fourth cochlear implant

recipient for Samoa and will be the first to be

receiving his rehabilitation via the internet

using video conferencing technology.

Kylie Chisholm from Sydney Cochlear Implant

Centre (SCIS) will be coming to Samoa for

3 weeks to train staff from Senese to help

develop and work with Uaealesi’s language


We would like to acknowledge the support

of Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Chiildren

(RIDBC), Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre

(SCIC), SENESE Inclusive Edcuation

Services, Totalisator Agency Board , The

Church of Latter Day Saints, who have either

financially and logistically assisted us in

making this into a reality.

If you suspect that your child may have

difficulty with hearing please do not hesitate

to call SENESE Inclusive Education Support

Services on 27531.



Winning Deaf team

trips down memory lane

PR - The Samoan Deaf Beach Volleyball team

gathered on Saturday morning to celebrate their

success at the XVI Australian Deaf Games, last month.

The reunion brought team members together with

their families and gave an opportunity to reflect on

the Games experience. Head of Delegation Caroline

Conlon says the gathering brought back wonderful


“It was so nice to be together, it felt like we were still

in Australia! The experience we shared together is

something that is special to us all.”

The team met for a debrief meeting to identify all the

positive aspects of the Games and what they can learn

from the Games to improve in the future.

“We are very proud of the team and those who

won medals.” Conlon is quick to add that they have

returned as confident and outgoing people. “The

experience for the deaf Samoans to be part of an

event that involved more than 800 athletes and visitors

has completely opened their eyes and instilled a new

sense of enthusiasm and initiative in their lives”.

For the Samoan deaf community, it was enlightening

to see other deaf people are leading fulfilling lives as

with hearing people and the perspective of deafness

as a disability has changed and is rightfully seen as a

cultural minority.

Families joined with the team as they watched a photo

slide show that was filled with stories. Director of

Senese, Donna Lene, believes the whole experience

in Australia has created 10 very promising young

deaf leaders to continue to develop programmes for

Samoa. “The future looks very good,” she said.

The Deaf Volleyball Association in Australia spoke

highly of the skills and natural talent that Samoa has. It

is clear that this experience has given them inspiration

to develop and grow stronger together through sports

and other opportunities.

They have their sights set on the next Games which

will be held in Adelaide in 2016.

Discussions are already in place with the view to

setting up Deaf rugby 7’s, cricket and netball teams.

If you have an adult deaf family member please

encourage them to make contact with Deaf Services,

SENESE, 27532.

Our Achievements

Deaf Services

Deaf Services provides home

visits and parent support

groups to families of children

who are deaf to improve

communication using sign

language. This program has

made huge changes in the lives of

people who are deaf and their families.

During 2011 programs ran to gather and empower deaf

adults through the establishment of a deaf club. A camp

was held in the early part of 2011 which provided a firm

foundation to allow the deaf club to grow. Toward the end

of 2011 the deaf club membership had risen to 40 with

people in both Upolu and Savaii. Midway through 2011,

with the assistance of Andrew Welshe, the Samoan Deaf

Club began preparations to participate in the Australian Deaf

Games in beach volleyball for men and women. Skillfully

the team prepared under Vaiaoga Leatuvao and Caroline

Conlon and went onto achieve great success.

In the next three years

In the next three years SENESE will continue to

empower children with disabilities, their families and

the communities they are included in by:

1. Enabling an increasing number of educational

providers to include students with disabilities as a

regular feature of their daily work.

Leverage technology and innovation appropriate to

our Samoan situation.

2. Improve access to quality services across Samoa,

by continually reviewing and improving what we


3. Establish a purpose built resource facility for our

support services.

4. Play a part in creating more awareness and

valuing the potential that lies within every person.

5. Share our experiences with other Pacific Islands.

Early diagnosis, quality

support, the right technology and

a devoted family means that there

are endless opportunities available

for children with disabilities in



SENESE would like to thank all the people who

have supported SENESE over this past year.

SENESE acknowledges the following donors who

have given exceptional contributions to SENESE

through specific programme grants

• Australian Agency for

International Development

• European Union

Thank you

Please continue your support of our

work enhancing the quality of life of

people with disabilities in Samoa and

enabling the village, education and

health systems to be able to reduce

barriers and provide access as a matter

of usual business.

To find out more, to become a member or

make donation to SENESE, go to www.;

call us on

+ 685 27532; or send us an email at


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