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Children with special needs

Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004 adopted the Framework Law for Primary and General Secondary education which stipulates inclusion of children with special needs into the regular classrooms. However, the lack of operational guidelines for implementation of this Law is directly violating the right of children with special needs to equal access and education. Furthermore, many schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina do not meet standards for physical access for children with special needs. Pre-service and in-service teacher training is not harmonized with the education reform requirements of the modern teaching methods and Law provisions.

According to the Report Children and Disability in Transition in CEE/CIS and Baltic States, prepared by UNICEF Innocenti Insight, the total number of children registered as disabled in 27 countries across the region’s has tripled from about 500,000 in 1990 to 1.5 million in 2000. An additional one million children are thought to go unregistered. Most of these children continue to face their lives in segregated institutions, suffering from stigma and discrimination.

There is no accurate data from Bosnia and Herzegovina, however, the overall bleak picture warns about problems of these, often forgotten, children. The same report discloses the fact that in BiH, most children with neurological disorders (cerebral palsy, autism, specific learning disabilities, ADHD - attention deficit hyperactive disorder) do not receive any pharmaceuticals which may reflect either little availability of drugs or uncertainty about their indicated uses.

The UNICEF’s research confirms that poverty and disability go hand in hand, each fuelling the other. Families with children with special needs tend to be poorer than other families. Disability continues to be poorly diagnosed and often goes untreated. It becomes a life sentence of lasting disadvantage. Lacking proper support from the State and with limited access to quality basic social services for treatment and care of their children, parents see institutionalization as the only viable alternative.

Likewise in the rest of the Region, in BIH preschool programmes for children with disability appear to be scarce, especially in villages and remote areas. Many respondents say if such kindergartens exist they are largely privately funded. In some smaller and war-affected countries, like Bosnia and Herzegovina international organizations like UNICEF and NGOs have had a major role in securing such services, but access remains limited.

 

 
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