Press release on inclusive education 6 february
inclusive education, press release, UNICEF Armenia, Armenia
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Press release on inclusive education 6 february
NEWS NOTE Inclusive education for children with disabilities can transform lives, says UNICEFNEW YORK, 6 February 2013 – Progressive policies in inclusive education have made positivechanges in the lives of children with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia,according to UNICEF today.More schools are welcoming first grade children with disabilities in Serbia as a result of years of policyadvocacy. Huge nationwide awareness raising campaigns in Montenegro and strong engagement ofcivil society in promoting inclusionin Armenia have led to increased public demands for inclusiveschools, UNICEF said.At a briefingfocusing on the issue of children with disabilities this week during a meeting of UNICEF’sExecutive Board in New York, other governments and donor communities were urged to supportpolicies that realized all children`s right to quality education as one way to reduce inequities createdby social exclusion.Countries highlighted their achievements to the President of the UNICEF Executive Board andPermanent Representative of Finland to the United NationsH.E. JarmoViinanen, UNICEF ExecutiveDirector Anthony Lake, Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth ofIndependent States Marie Pierre Poirier, and members of UNICEF Executive Board and permanentmissions from the region.Mr.Viinanenfocused on the importance of the right to education irrespective of disabilities, colour, sex,language, religion or economic background. “We cannot afford leaving any child outside schools. Everychild must have an equal right to basic education,” he said.He shared some Finnish experiences in education with the audience: ”In Finland basic education iscompletely free of charge including also school meals and materials, health care and commuting. Theaim is that all children including children with disabilities could attend the same schools. The schoolnetwork is regionally extensive and a lot of emphasis has been given to the quality training ofmotivated teachers. Qualified teachers are instrumental to successful inclusive education.”“The examples shown today clearly demonstrate that we know how to make schools welcoming forchildren with disabilities. But much more needs to be done. Current policies common across manycountries mean that children with disabilities are often hidden behind closed doors,” said Ms.Poirier ofUNICEF.“They endure stigma instead of discovering their talents. They are left out of birth registers andbecome invisible. And even when children with disabilitieshave access to education, they are excludedfrom regular schools or often segregated in special schools, away from their families andcommunities,” she said.The key achievements cited at the briefing included: Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development from Serbia,Dr.ZarkoObradovicdescribed innovations such as the Network for Inclusive Education where thegovernment and over 50 teachers, school psychologists, pedagogues and the members of national civilsociety groups work together with the National Monitoring Framework that tracks progress in reducinginequities in education. Some 15,000 teachers, or a fifth of the total, have now been trained. A third ofSerbian primary schools increased enrolment of children with disabilities into the first grade in 2010.
The Permanent Representative of Armenia, H.E. GarenNazarian,speaking on behalf of the governmentfocused on the importance of making a strategic shift from grassroots school-level work to acomprehensive policy effort, including the transformation of special schools.In particular, Mr. Nazarian mentioned that Armenia has made tangible progress in ensuring the rightsof children with disabilities, especially in the area of education. Today 1700 children with disabilitiesare studying in close to 100 inclusive schools and this number will increase with the adoption ofamendments to the Law on Education currently being discussed by the National Assembly of Armenia.Among challenges Mr.Nazarianemphasized highpoverty rates among children with disabilities, lack ofcomprehensive services as well as stereotypes and discrimination towards persons with disabilities,including children, and their ability to become full-fledged members of the community. Deputy Minister of Education and Sports from Montenegro,Ms.VesnaVucurovicoutlined a three-yearadvocacy campaign reaching 80 per cent of the population. One in four people surveyed said they hadchanged their behaviour and are now more accepting that children with disabilities are included inmainstream schools and society.UNICEF welcomed greater focus by the donor community on more inclusive assistance programmes,which in the area of inclusive education and children with disabilities was currently being led by theGovernment of Australia.The 2011 World Disability Report estimated the number of children with disabilities at 5.1 per cent ofthe population. This means about 93 million children in the world and about 5.1 million in Central andEastern Europe and Central Asia. However, these figures only represent very gross estimates andshould be treated with caution. In most cases, the underlying national data should be improved inquality and collected using up-to-date definitions and consistent methods to provide a reliable picture.Children continue to remain invisible whether they are excluded from education, or segregated withinthe mainstream or make up the more than600,000 children in institutions, which is still a commonapproach in many countries of the region.A UNICEF paper The Right of Children with Disabilities to Education:A Rights-Based Approach toInclusive Educationwas presented at the briefing detailing how inclusive education promotes toleranceand equal participation in society. It leads to better learning outcomes, not only for children withdisabilities but for all children. It is central to the achievement of high quality education for alllearners, reducing inequities and building more inclusive societies.All students, including children with disabilities, require individualized services and approaches tolearning. Inclusive education does not require special schools, specialized care, expensive materials orhighly technical expertise.UNICEF is working with governments to support families to prevent separation; end placement ofchildren in large-scale institutions; as well as provide quality inclusive education. Inclusive educationmeans each and every child – with or without disability, rich or poor, regardless of gender, ethnic,religious, cultural origins – is able to attend a neighbourhood school, which fully nurtures every childspotential.For more information, please contact:Emil Sahakyan – Communication Officer, UNICEF ArmeniaTel,: +374 10 52 35 46, 56 64 97 (113); (mob) +374 91 20 38 21E-mail: email@example.com