UNICEF says many children with disabilities are still in special schools
YEREVAN, 8 October 2010 – About 2,800 children with disabilities in Armenia are still attending special schools, according to the Ministry of Education and Science data. These children are denied the right to live in their communities, to live with their families and to receive proper education in a regular school, UNICEF said today at the launch of the Evaluation of Inclusive Education in Armenia Report.
The Evaluation initiated by UNICEF in 2009 reveals a number of bottlenecks in provision of quality education to children with disabilities in Armenia and suggests policy recommendations for the Government to improve the situation and ensure the achievement of “Education for All” goals.
“Although Armenia has made considerable progress in the area of inclusive education and is a pioneer in this region to initiate inclusive education, the number of children with disabilities enrolled in inclusive schools is still low. Only slightly over 1,500 children with disabilities are currently studying in 63 inclusive schools in Armenia,“ UNICEF Representative Laylee Moshiri said, addressing representatives of the Ministry of Education, public sector and school administrations attending the event.
The Report, in particular, says that while Armenia ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which expressly calls on all governments to ensure inclusive education system, the existing legal framework still allows for special boarding schools for children with disabilities alongside inclusive schools, thus resulting in a situation where the majority of children with disabilities continue to be educated in segregated environments, such as special schools.
“We need today a clear vision and a comprehensive action plan on how we proceed with further expansion of inclusive education in Armenia. I know that with scarce financial and human resources it is a big challenge. However, if those resources are re-allocated and put into inclusive education instead of special schools, we can include more children with special educational needs in mainstream education,” UNICEF Representative emphasized.
Recommendations provided in the Report include, among others, the need for improved collection of data on children in special boarding institutions which can be used for development of a comprehensive master plan on inclusive education; access of children with disabilities to social services, including psychological support; better interaction among various social services in providing assistance to children with disabilities and their families as well as continued awareness raising on inclusive education and the right of children with disabilities to mainstream education.
The principle of inclusive education was adopted at the 1994 Salamanca World Conference on Special Needs Education held in Spain, and was restated at the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. As a result, the challenge of exclusion from education has been put on the political agenda in many countries including Armenia.
About UNICEF in Armenia
UNICEF established its presence in Armenia in 1994. 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 meet their full potential.
For further information, please contact:
UNICEF Armenia Office