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Parents demand inclusive services and an end to the discrimination of children with disability

© UNICEF/ Montenegro/ 2012/ M.Krivacevic
Ms. Zeljka Kolundzija, President of the Parents Association from Zabljak

PODGORICA, MARCH 19, 2012 – Within the It’s about ability campaign, UNICEF organized a consultative meeting with the Associations of parents of children with disabilities from all over the country in order to listen to their concerns and recommendations related to creating an inclusive society in Montenegro.
Several Parents Associations pointed out to the need to educate parents of children with disabilities in order to help them not to be ashamed and hide these children.
“In Zabljak, we have a problem with children with disability who are hidden in houses. A lot needs to be done on the education of their parents, who don’t want to talk about this. We could not even see these children.” said the representative of Parents Association from Northern Montenegrin municipality of Zabljak, Ms Zeljka Kolundzija.
Making Day Care Centres available in all municipalities and ensuring the quality of this service was recognized as an urgent priority by all participants at the meeting.
Parents also emphasized that making teaching assistants for children with disability in mainstream schools become a regular practice financed by the Ministry of Education is essential for inclusive education.
“The problem of Montenegro related to inclusive education is that when you enrol the child with disability in the mainstream school, the system does not provide any additional funds for this child. If this child were in a special institution, it would cost the state much more. So, the funds need to follow the beneficiary. I believe that we need to make pressure through this campaign to resolve such things systematically.” explained Ms Anka Djurisic from the Parents Association in the capital of Podgorica.

© UNICEF/ Montenegro/ 2012/ M.Krivacevic
UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks with parents of children with disabilities

Ms Nejra Mekic from the Parents Association in Bijelo Polje and Ms Svetlana Dujovic from the Parents Association of Pljevlja pointed out the benefits of volunteerism for stimulating friendships between children with and without disabilities.
“We have volunteerism in the last five years and it is an extraordinary service. I think it should be supported at the local level, but in a way that there are coordinators of volunteer activities both in the Parents Associations and schools, so that it’s not just a service developed by the Parents Associations, as we need to work in a team.” said Ms Dujovic.
Parents Associations also reflected on the impact of the ‘It’s About Ability’ campaign.
“The “It’s about ability” campaign is just the sort of campaign we needed, as it made our children more visible in the society.” pointed out Ms Cica Zugic from the Parents Association in Niksic.
At the end, UNICEF Representataive Benjamin Perks summarized the key recommendations proposed by the Parents Associations that UNICEF will take into account when deciding on future activities of the It’s about ability camapaign and of UNICEF’s programme supporting the social and child welfare reform.
’’The issue of parents who continue to keep their children at home, do not send them to school, playgrounds, day care centres should be a key target for the next phase of  the campaign. We should aim for an increase in the number of parents who bring their children forward to the Commission for orientation of children with disability in inclusive education,’’ UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks concluded.



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