Albanian preschool teachers embrace innovative classroom practices to ensure inclusive education.

Inclusive education works

UNICEF Albania
inclusive
UNICEF/ALBANIA/2021
15 December 2021

Teacher Viola is an early childhood educator. For many years she managed classrooms with a large number of children from different backgrounds and abilities. The challenges ahead, enormous. "It was hard for me to meet the diverse needs of all children in the class. I support the idea of preschool inclusion, and I know the benefits, but I lacked knowledge and skills regarding inclusive practices." says Viola.

Despite the improvements in the education system in Albania, the philosophy of inclusion, especially in preschool education, is not promoted enough. Often teachers are left in isolation to deal with children of a wide range of learning abilities and with little training support.

Teachers need to be provided with functional teacher training programs that foster positive attitudes and best practices to make preschool inclusion successful. Interventions are needed to ensure that teaching has the right rhythm for those who face greater difficulties in their learning and provide these children with the best teachers. Hence, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education and the Agency for Assuring Quality in Preuniversity Education (AAQPE) in Albania to develop inclusive education methodologies for preschool settings. The work on inclusive education has shaped the new Standards for the Preschool directors, which contain elements of holistic inclusive approaches in preschool management.

Thanks to UNICEF's support, 582 teachers and school directors improved their knowledge and skills towards inclusive education. Methodologies on inclusive learning have also been enriched with new elements on how to work with children online.

"We should always challenge ourselves to learn new things. The training was an eye-opener for me. Innovative perspectives on inclusion are explained to us by the education experts. The new tools introduced at the training helped me develop innovative approaches and improve the teaching process. Gradually, I started to adopt new teaching styles that are inclusive of different learning modes. If we want children to be helpful to each other, accept, interact, and be friendly to each other, we need to teach it." says Viola, one of the participant teachers of the training.

There exists enough evidence that parents' partnership on inclusive education is important. Successful teaming of teachers and parents make inclusion work.

"Because our preschool has decided to embrace inclusion, we are working a lot with parents. We are working on how to bring parents on board and try and find common ways to deal with behavioral issues of their children." – Viola said.

"I am a mother with a child with a moderate disability. Whenever kids were having a small party or gathering, my son was not invited. It was a heartbreaking experience. I know it takes time. But things are changing. I see that teachers are more engaged and attentive to the needs of each child now. The teacher showed a short movie in preschool where children with disabilities were invited to participate in all out of preschool events. The teacher talked to the kids about how they felt if they were left alone and not invited to be part of the group. Sessions were also held with parents of children as they have to be inclusive too."

"Now, my son is more engaged with preschool activities and interacts with peers. Recently, I saw in my son's backpack a birthday party invitation. I was flattered. What excitement for both!".

We are aware that inclusion doesn't happen overnight. UNICEF will continue to support teachers from the preschool education level in their efforts to apply inclusive practices in schools and preschools. We believe that inclusive education is a matter of fairness and will contribute to the meaningful integration of children in schools and their communities in the future. Inclusion starts early in life!  

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Promoting inclusive education is part of the program ‘Mitigation of the impact of COVID-19 on the lives of children and parents in the Western Balkans and Turkey’ which has received funding from the European Union.”