In the last decade, in particular, more countries have recognised the need for legislation and policies that provide more inclusive programs for disadvantaged and disabled learners. This has been a positive outcome of the United Nations Millennium Goals and the Education for All (EFA) principles and programs. Along with the aim of increasing access for all learners, there has been an extra focus in some countries on those children and adults, with disabilities, who have previously been denied access to inclusive education and training opportunities. Of particular importance and relevance has been the added focus on supporting skills development for disadvantaged and disabled learners to gain more meaningful post-school employment. This has meant an extension of training opportunities for young people into technical, vocational education and training (TVET) areas. This has meant that access programs should be readily be created that cater for and support students with learning difficulties and disabilities (physical, sensory and intellectual).
CEI has experience in creating access programs for target groups described as disadvantaged and disabled. Staff members have combined education and training qualifications with experience in TVET and special education to create programs that allow increased access for participants to skills development and initial basic qualifications. The emphasis is on determining the level of support required for work readiness and competencies for relevant industry sectors (e.g. retail, horticulture and hospitality). Work experience is a feature of the programs, where employers are involved wherever possible in determining suitable jobs for participants. Post-school employment includes both supported and independently functioning work opportunities.
One example of the successful creation of access programs for young people is the development (in 2009) of the EU funded Botswana Technical Education Program (BTEP) Access Programs for students with special needs in education (SEN). Learners were provided with literacy and numeracy skills related to retailing and hospitality, technical skills in these occupational areas (e.g. customer service, storeroom and kitchen skills) and work readiness skills. The course was included as part of the regular BTEP offerings at a modified first level of a four-level program. The modifications related mainly to allow extra time and support for learning and assessment. Policy was developed to provide the linkages to the existing BTEP program and work experience included both supported and independent placements. The success of the program was its adoption by another education and training facility in Botswana and the increased number of course graduates with a disability entering the workforce.