TERMS OF REFERENCE for the international technical assistance to Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan on the development of Inclusive Education Policy Framework
Background and Context:
Throughout the world children who have special educational needs have traditionally been marginalized within or excluded from schools. As a result of the 1990 World Conference on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs, the challenge of exclusion from education has been put on the political agenda in many countries. This initiative has helped to focus attention on children who may be excluded from or marginalized within education systems because of their apparent difficulties.
These may include those who are already enrolled in education but for a variety of reasons do not achieve adequately, those who are not enrolled in schools but who could participate if schools were more flexible in their responses, and the relatively small group of children with more severe impairments who may have a need for some form of additional support.
The public education systems of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including the Republic of Azerbaijan, have undergone reforms in education. Recent studies indicate that there have been some improvements in access, equality, finance and governance of the education. Still many of these countries do not fully achieve Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and commitments in Education for All (EFA). A regional study by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2007 found that “separate education of children with special needs still prevails and wider reforms can encourage exclusion of such children.” Regarding the equality in education, the same study reports that “…opportunities for children with special needs outside of institutions are limited and many children with disabilities (CWD) are not enrolled in schools.” This report concludes that there is much needed to be done in CIS countries to improve access, equality, governance and financing of education, including educational arrangements for children with disabled and otherwise disadvantaged children.
The public education system of the Republic of Azerbaijan is based on the former Soviet education systems and offers variety of educational provisions for the children with special educational needs. A large part of the system is built on the Soviet science of “defectology”, which is usually associated with the education of CWD in special schools and home schools, separated from other children.
Thus, the majority of available government-provided educational provisions facilitate isolation and segregation of CWD from their peers and the society at large. Additionally, educational arrangements in Azerbaijan are not widely available across the country, they are not fully accessible and the system is not proactive in locating and involving CWD into education. Nonetheless, the Government of Azerbaijan (GoAz) has recently launched initiatives such as the National Program on Development of Inclusive Education (2005-09), which are intended to enable children with disabilities to receive education together with their non-disabled peers have greater access to education across the country.
In 2006 UNICEF Azerbaijan supported the study on educational provision for students with disabilities, learning difficulties and disadvantages to look in detail at the students concerned, where they are educated (special schools, special classes or regular classes) and what their level of education is. The study was conducted by the Centre for Innovations in Education (CIE) in close coordination with the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan Republic and UNICEF.
The study revealed that as other former Soviet Union republics, Azerbaijan’s education system is not fully adequate to accommodate educational needs of CWD. There are serious challenges in accessibility, affordability, availability and quality of educational provisions in Azerbaijan. Majority of these barriers can be alleviated with better government regulations and policies that address real needs of CWD and their families. The government has not yet clearly identified the visionary path that it wants to pursue with regards to the educational arrangements for vulnerable children.
The study revealed that there is still stigma, wrong perceptions about and limited understanding of issues related to CWD and their families. Moreover, the stigma and misperceptions exist among the families of children with disabilities, who are not empowered enough to take leadership in seeking and creating opportunities for education of their children. Civil society organization should be active with regard to public education (raising awareness among people, parents, etc.) and government advocacy.
The study findings allow inferring that there is a serious lack of special services to meet the needs of children with special needs. This gap is strongly associated with the out-dated approaches of Soviet era, which has narrow medical approach. On the other hand, due to segregative policies of the past, many general schools do not have special service specialists as it was (and still is) not required by the system. Additionally, the higher education institutions of Azerbaijan have limited programs to prepare cadres to fulfil the gaps.
Analysis of the regulations shows that the mechanisms lack concrete description of tasks and mechanisms for the implementation, supervision and monitoring of those tasks.
Purpose of the assignment
Under the supervision of the UNICEF Development Officer and in cooperation with Ministry of Education to provide high level technical expertise to the Ministry of Education to prepare 5-year State Inclusive Education Development Program and mentor and develop both ministry and civil society organizations on Inclusive Education practices and methodologies
Duty station: Baku, Azerbaijan
Major tasks to be accomplished:
July 2010 –June 2011 (131 days)
Qualifications or specialized knowledge/experience required:
An advanced degree in education or a related field
The consultant should have significant:
Interested individual should send:
Kenan Mammadli, Development Officer
or send the documents mentioned above electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org
UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.
Deadline: 16 June, 2010
For further information please contact: Kenan Mammadli, email@example.com