Major Area: Basic Education and Gender Equality
Until the end of 1990s, special boarding schools were the option for children with special education needs to access formal education in Armenia. This system reinforced the prevailing medical approach to disability as well as societal stereotypes of people with disabilities. The Ministry of Education and Science (MoES) has committed to increasing access of children with special education needs to inclusive schools. During the last decade, UNICEF has supported the government’s effort to achieve inclusive education through a variety of programmes, in partnership with local and international NGOs. Currently 81 schools are officially recognized as ‘inclusive’ by MoES, providing education to over 1,700 children with special education needs through adjustments in teaching/learning methods; physical learning environment; teacher education and recruitment of multidisciplinary special education teams.
The initial bottom-up approaches of capacity building of civil society organizations; community sensitization and school-level pilots were gradually complemented with advocacy towards policy level changes with an aim of strengthening systems to accommodate inclusive education. The MoES, in coordination with stakeholders, is now supporting the expansion of inclusive education through a process of policy revision and systemic reforms, and piloting an alternative funding system. Drawing on the results from an external evaluation of inclusive education policies and programmes in 2009, this case study reviews the implementation of the Inclusive Education programmes in Armenia since 2006, highlights key impacts and shares lessons learned for future programming and application to other settings.
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