Inclusive education and special schools both needed

Specialists consider it necessary to
develop inclusive education along with the system of special schools

 

Participants
in the public hearings on the theme of inclusive
education for people with disabilities: Implementation or rejection,

considered that it was necessary to develop both inclusive education and
special schools for children with disabilities.

 

The
hearings took place in the State Duma (Parliament) on 7 June, around the
anniversary of Russia’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of
People with Disabilities. Questions discussed were the legal basis for the
development of inclusive education, the right of parents to choose an
educational institution for their child, early specialist help, special
educational institutions and inclusive education for those with disabilities.
Workers in educational institutions and organisations, senior managers and
specialists working in education, health, and welfare, representatives of the
teaching unions, and parents, leaders and activists from associations concerned
with the rights of those with disabilities or with parents’ organisations, had
been invited to participate.

 

Oleg
Smolin, first deputy chair of the Duma education committee and chair of the
national organisation Education for All, said that parents of children with
disabilities identified two main problems regarding access to secondary
education. Some parents are upset over their children not having the
opportunity to attend ordinary schools alongside children without disabilities.
Others express dissatisfaction over the fact that the number of special schools
is diminishing and children with disabilities are having to be educated in
ordinary schools which lack specialised educational facilities.

 

According
to the ministry of education and science there are currently 964 schools in
Russia which have been fully adapted to allow for the inclusive education of
children with disabilities. Irina Terekhina, a consultant with the ministry’s
department for children’s   education and
socialisation, said: ‘There has to be both a system of special education and
one of inclusive education. Parents are entitled to choose where their children
are educated. When making the choice, each child has to be considered
individually taking into account their particular characteristics.

 

Another
specialist, Sergei Kavokin, agreed that it was not possible to view people with
disabilities en masse. ‘A distinction has to be made between those whose
intellectual faculties are or are not intact. Can I be told how the former can
learn in a conventional setting suggested for them. How may teaching be
organised where a child’s intellect is intact but s/he has defective hearing or
awareness?’ He thought that inclusive education had to be organised differently
for different groups of those with disabilities. Also educating children with
disabilities together with healthy children demanded specialised teacher
training.

 

However,
he did come down on the side of extending inclusive education programmes in the
country because education was the basis for the future employment of people
with disabilities. He cited statistics to the effect that in Russia 3.4 – 6.8%
of people with disabilities were in employment as compared with 40% in England.

 

Elena
Khudenko, director of the National Association of People with Disabilities
Development and Improvement Centre, drew attention to the fact that scientific
and methodological materials which would enable teachers and other educational
workers to organise effective teaching targeted at those in different
categories of disability were not available. Specialists were however generally
concerned that the emphasis on inclusive education should not distract
attention from the desirability of maintaining and enhancing special schools.
Both systems needed to be developed.

 

http://www.asi.org.ru/ASI3/rws_asi.nsf/va_webPages/9F3280487534634744257B860025EF11Rus?OpenDocument&stat=0

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