Inclusive approach to screening of children with special needs
Skopje, 25 February 2012: Education practitioners and professors from teachers’ training faculties have come together today to participate in a four-day training of trainers on Inclusive Education, focusing on screening and identification of learning needs. Over the next week participants will discuss strategies to make a shift in the way children’s learning needs are assessed - from a ‘special needs’ or ‘defectology’ approach towards an approach that builds on children’s abilities and focuses on overcoming barriers to learning.
“All children, including those with disabilities, require individualized services and approaches to learning. Schools should work towards providing an inclusive education that meets all their students’ needs,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative. “Inclusive education is not a marginal issue, but is central to the attainment of a high quality education for all learners , and for ensuring that all children are able to reach their full potential.”
In a recent report The Right of Children with Disabilities to Education: A Rights-Based Approach to Inclusive Education, UNICEF has shown that inclusive education promotes tolerance and equal participation in society. It leads to better learning outcomes, not only for children with disabilities but for all children. It is central to the achievement of high quality education for all learners, reducing inequities and building more inclusive societies.
UNICEF estimates that only 15% of children with disabilities in this country are in school, mainly in specialised institutions. In this country, as is true elsewhere in the region, issues of stigma have been one of the primary barriers preventing full inclusion. A recent UNICEF baseline study on education based on the child-friendly school framework found that sixty-nine per cent of teachers that teach children with disabilities in this country, and fifty per cent of all teachers, feel that children with special needs do not belong in mainstream classrooms.
As part of the package on inclusive education training of trainers developed with UNICEF support and technical expertise of international experts from the Enabling Education Network (EENET) , the same group of education professionals have completed training in three other modules: Inclusive Education Theories and Concepts; School Inclusion Teams, and Reaching Out-of-School Children. The modules were developed with active involvement of teacher training faculties, local NGOs, the Bureau for Education and Development and the Ministry of Education and Science.
The UNICEF Inclusive Education Programme is challenging the way children with special education needs are viewed, emphasizing their abilities and making sure that they are able to take their rightful place in the classroom. The programme is providing proven tools and techniques to teachers to recognize the special needs of these children as well as their abilities, help school staff to plan and support teaching in line with their abilities, but most importantly ensure these children attend mainstream schools and study alongside all other children. This support is crucial in giving children who are not currently enrolled in mainstream schools a chance to be included from an early age, meet their full potential, and broaden their social connections.
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