UNICEF and the Polish Ministry of Education and Science promote inclusive education
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Warsaw, 24 March 2023 – Accessible and inclusive quality education is crucial for all children, including those who have fled the war in Ukraine and children with disabilities. This was the conclusion of an international conference organized today in Warsaw by UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Science of Poland.
The international conference, “A Child Is A Child: National dialogue on promoting accessible and inclusive education”, aimed to further accessible and inclusive education through discussion of the educational context in Poland and national and international best practices. Participants included high-level representation from Polish government ministries and municipalities, international and local education experts and specialists, academia, school principals and teachers, as well as civil society organisations advocating for the rights of children.
“Inclusive education is the most effective way to give all children a fair chance to go to school, learn and develop the skills they need to thrive,” said Dr. Rashed Mustafa, Country Coordinator for UNICEF’s Refugee Response Office in Poland. “Today we looked at the barriers children in Poland, including refugees from Ukraine and children with disabilities, face in accessing quality learning opportunities and how we can overcome these barriers together.”
“Every child, every student - regardless of which school they go to: mainstream or special school - must be provided with right conditions to develop their potential, their abilities, and when they need it - receive appropriate support. It is important to prepare the best possible way for independence in adult life - an independent, dignified and satisfying life. Child support should be provided at the earliest when the need is identified. Because "by changing the beginning of the story, you can change the whole story," said Marzena Machałek, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education and Science of Poland, who opened the all-day event at the University of Warsaw.
Other speakers included Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy of Poland, Paweł Wdówik, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Family and Social Policy of Poland, Plenipotentiary for Persons with Disabilities, as well as Anna Korfel-Jasińska, Deputy Mayor of Krakow for Education, Sport and Tourism and Mariusz Banach, Deputy Mayor of Lublin for Education and Upbringing.
UNICEF is working with the Ministry of Education and Science of Poland to ensure accessible and inclusive education for all children coming from Ukraine, including those with disabilities. This includes professional development for educators, particularly specialist teachers and principals, on how to support learners, parents and teachers.
We also work with central government and 12 municipalities across the country to deliver educational services, raise awareness of accessible and inclusive education, use modern pedagogical approaches and best practices. This is to ensure all children, with a focus on children with special educational needs, have a fair chance to go to school, learn and develop the skills they need to thrive. As part of this work, around 16,000 educators will be trained in how to support accessible and inclusive education for all children in preschools and schools across Poland.
UNICEF also supports centres for education, development, therapy and psychosocial support for children with disabilities across Poland. The centres provide services including mental health and psychosocial support, individual and group therapy, early diagnosis and referral services. This is for children from Ukraine and other refugee and migrant groups, as well as the local community.
Today’s conference aims to help develop a common understanding and a consensus on the critical elements of accessible and quality inclusive education system that require future action and support. UNICEF plans to build on this work in 2023 and beyond, through its education programme with central and local government and NGO partners and through its advocacy in this space, so all children can be included in all classrooms in Poland.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.