Inclusive education for children with disabilities can transform lives, says UNICEF
NEW YORK, 6 February 2012 – At a briefing that is focusing on the issue of children with disabilities, on the margins of the First Regular Session of the UNICEF Executive Board in New York, delegates from Montenegro share the experience in advancing the realization of the right of children with disabilities to quality education. Delegates from Montenegro taking part at the briefing are: Vesna Vučurović, Deputy Minister of Education, and Tamara Milić, Advisor for children with special educational needs in the Ministry of Education.
Ms. Vesna Vucurovic, Deputy Minister of Education and Sports of Montenegro (middle) after finishing a video interview at UNICEF studio. She is accompanied by Third Secretary at Permanent Mission of Montenegro to the UN, Ms Dragana Scepanovic (left) and Tamara Milic, Advisor for Children with Special Educational Needs in the Montenegrin Ministry of Education, (right). - UNICEF 2013
At this briefing, delegates of Montenegro, Serbia and Armenia highlight the importance of inclusive education for children with disabilities through their own experience. In Montenegro, UNICEF and the Government are implementing huge nationwide awareness raising campaign It’s about ability which have led to attitude change towards children with disabilities, and revealed increased public demands for inclusive education and development of support services on the local level.
“On the one hand, there is a need to build systems to realize the rights of children with disability - systems for detection and assessment of disability, for inclusive education and social work interventions to support families of children with disability. But also, there needs to be a parallel effort to address the stigma and prejudice against children with disability and the aim of this campaign is to really show the positive face of children with disabilities and to bring them out into the open,” said Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Montenegro Representative.
Every second citizen of Montenegro (49 per cent) learned something new about children with disability from the It’s about ability campaign, while one in five (19 per cent) changed attitudes and one in four (25 per cent) changed positively the behaviour towards children with disability according to the latest KAP survey conducted in December 2012. Also, there has been a significant shift in attitudes towards inclusive education. A much greater percentage of citizens believe that it is good for children with disability to attend mainstream schools since that affects positively their development (increase from 57 per cent before the campaign to 71 per cent in Dec 2012).
"Legal and strategic framework which follows international standards and European legislation is established, and accordingly, inclusion is considered as the first option for the child with disabilities. As a result, 3 600 children with special educational needs are enrolled in mainstream schools, which is a huge achievement when compared to the number of 67 children enrolled in school year of 2002/03," said Vesna Vučurović, Deputy Minister of Education.
According to the Ministry of Education, Strategy on inclusive education was adopted by the Government of Montenegro, and Law on education and upbringing of children with special educational needs was revised in 2010. The Ministry of Education has been supporting the process of deinstitutionalisation and promoting inclusive education with the aim to ensure that a child with special educational needs stays in their family and attends mainstream schools together with their peers.
The 2011 World Disability Report estimated the number of children with disabilities at 5.1 per cent of the population. This means about 93 million children in the world and about 5.1 million in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Many of those children are still excluded from education, or separated from their families and placed in institutions.
Since right to education and right of a child to live in a family environment are guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF, in cooperation with the Governments, will continue its work on securing quality inclusive education to every child regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion or social status.
UNICEF will continue to support Government of Montenegro in implementation of activities with the aim to prevent separation of children from their families, and placement of children in institutions, as well as to build the system that will provide quality education to all children and enable them to realize their own potential.