Skopje, 30 September 2019: The Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ms. Mila Carovska, Minister of Education and Science Mr. Arber Ademi, Deputy Health Minister Mr. Asim Musa, British Ambassador to North Macedonia Ms. Rachel Galloway and UNICEF Representative Mr. Benjamin Perks today visited the Functional Assessment and Support Centre for Children and Youth. The centre will be implementing a new assessment model for children with disabilities based on the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). The new model gives focus to assessing what the child can achieve and the environmental barriers that prevent the child from fulfilling their potential.
Minister Carovska noted that since May up until now, 250 children and young people have been supported with the new assessment model. She urged parents to bring their children to the Center as the assessment is very important for their inclusion.
“Many thanks to UNICEF and the British Embassy for their support in opening this Center which uses the most modern standards and internationally recognized practices. Through this process, we will know where to guide our children and which obstacles we need to remove as a country so that they can achieve their full potential and contribute to society. Up until now, North Macedonia has used an outdated model of assessment which was often traumatic for both the parents and their child as it labeled and discriminated against the child, and often led to them avoiding the process. Now, we are offering a completely new model which should bring benefits to all of us", said Minister Carovska.
The Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Arber Ademi noted that the new Law on Primary Education provides for full inclusion of children with disabilities in municipal primary schools. To ensure schools avoid grouping and isolating children with disabilities in one class, the law introduces a threshold where only two students with disabilities can be enrolled in each class.
“Inclusive education is one of the top priorities of the Ministry of Education and Science and the Republic of North Macedonia's Government, and concrete steps have been taken to this end. The new Primary Education Law specifies very clearly states that from the 2022/2023 school year, all children with disabilities will be included in mainstream classes. Still, these children’s functioning shall be assessed by professional experts who will be accommodated at the Center we are visiting today. The shared goal of all state institutions, ministries and our international partners such as UNICEF and the British Embassy in Skopje is to ensure full inclusion of these children in both schools and society”, said Minister Ademi.
The Deputy Minister of Health Dr. Asim Musa noted that the opening of this Pilot Center for functional assessment based on the ICF is proof that the national health policy recognizes the importance of such global efforts.
“From the very beginning of this idea, the Ministry of Health was actively involved in the inter-sectoral project for the preparation of the new functional assessment model for the purpose of additional educational, health and social support to any child or youth, based on the International Classification of Functioning. This is a significant reform based on global trends for giving full support to the youngest members of society, prepared by the World Health Organization, with the active support in its implementation by UNICEF in the country”. stressed the Deputy Minister Musa.
British Embassy and UNICEF have made a significant contribution to the operation of the Functional Assessment and Support Centre for Children and Youth.
“We are committed to improve policies and practices on social cohesion and diversity in North Macedonia. That is why we are happy to support UNICEF Foundation for the future project. This project is part of our broader effort to improve the lives of all children and to support reforms in the educational system,” said British Ambassador, Rachel Galloway.
“The opening of the Centre is a milestone for inclusive practices in health, education and social protection which will ensure that children and families get the support they need to ensure a dignified childhood in which they thrive and flourish. Without this important work, children with disabilities will continue to be among those at risk of being abandoned, segregated, excluded and dependent on others”, said Mr. Benjamin Perks, UNICEF Representative.
The new assessment model will be implemented in Skopje in the building of the former Children’s Home “11 October” where there is one national and two professional assessment bodies. The assessment process includes the child’s parent (guardian) as an equal member of the team and depending on the child’s needs, this process can also be performed at home, in the kindergarten, or at school. The work of all professional bodies is standardized, while the introduction of a central electronic database related to this work is underway.
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 www.unicef.mk.