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Inclusion of children with disability - Primary School 'Savo Ilic' in Kotor

© UNICEF Montenegro
Jelena and her classmates at the geography class

KOTOR, November 23, 2010 - A survey conducted in August 2010 as well as UNICEF’s on the ground experience have revealed considerable social distance towards children with disabilities.
Only one third of citizens would accept that a child with disability goes to the same class as their child. However, there are also stories that provide inspiration, such as the one of the 6th grader Jelena Todorovic.
Jelena attends primary school Savo Ilic in the coastal city of Kotor. There are 6 children with disabilities attending the school. She has many good friends and most of them are with her from the first grade.
Bosko, Ivana, Sara and others are spending quality time with Jelena outside of school as well.
‘’Jelena is great friend, she loves us all, we are celebrating together all her birthdays, we are playing with her at the playground,’’ says Sara Ivanovic.
School psychologist claims that having a child with disability in a class has many benefits for both children and teachers.
 ‘’Jelena has helped other children in the classroom to become sensitive to her needs and it seems that our children adopted this kind of behaviour, the promotion of inclusion, the inclusion of children with disabilities in education, much before their parents‘’
says Ljiljana Adzic, school Educator – Psychologist.
One of Jelena’s teachers finds the experience of having a child with disability as one of the most valuable teachings in her career.
‘’I had in my class a girl with disability. Working with Jelena was a great new experience. I got her confidence and her love, but I also discovered the possibilities of child’s inclusion into a regular class,’’ says Jelena’s professor, Mirjana Ilic.

© UNICEF Montenegro
Jelena Todorovic in the class

The school principal emphasizes that all children are equal but there is a need to adopt different strategies in order to fully unlock their potential.
‘’We regard all children equally, but we use different approaches to them. Every child has a world of its own, and our task is to reach their world. The smile on Jelena’s face is our roadmap,’’ says Nebojsa Kuc, school Principal

The It’s About Ability campaign has travelled throughout the country to meet with decision makers as well as with students, with parents and teachers, with friends, brothers and sisters to have every one interact with children with disabilities and hear their voices. This fulfilling experience has taught us to see opportunities where many see barriers, to see courage and strength where many see weaknesses, to see love, where many see just a burden. Every single person in the society has a role to play to ensure that Jelena’s experience becomes the rule rather than exception, in Montenegro.



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