Lack of specialists hampering inclusive education in Russia
“We are sorely lacking in specialists”: problems and prospects for inclusive education in Russia
The Public Chamber of the Russian Federation discussed the promotion of education for children and adults with disabilities.
Over the past five years, much has been done for inclusive education at the legislative level. A large contribution to this work has been made by NGOs and parental organisations. However, there are still many problems with law enforcement practice to be worked on. This was stated at a round table by Lyudmila Vakorina, director of the Centre for the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Children.
“We are sorely lacking in specialists. This is a big problem. Inclusion is impossible without well-organised psychological and pedagogical assistance. We need other specialists: psychologists, speech therapists, special needs experts, and tutors.”
Vakorina emphasised that the Ministry of Education has already prepared a strategy for the development of education for people with disabilities up to 2030. Among the areas for improvement are the accessibility and quality of education, and social integration.
Under the Council for the Development of Pedagogical Education, a working group has been created to modernise education. It will also be involved in the development of a professional standard for ‘special needs teacher’, the development of special needs departments and faculties, an increase in the number of highly qualified specialists, candidates and doctors of science in ‘correctional pedagogy and corrective psychology’, and the preparation of a mentoring programme for graduate employment.
“A draft federal law has already been prepared on amending certain legislative acts to ensure the right to education for persons in special educational institutions,” said Lyudmila Vakorina. “This document clarifies the category of students who need special conditions for receiving education, and the definition of ‘psychological and pedagogical rehabilitation of children with disabilities’ – that is to say in what cases and who requires it, what kind of specialists they need and how the state will provide it.”
According to Vakorina, Russian home schooling is currently of very low quality. “The problem is not that there are more children studying at home. In some situations, it’s really easier for a school to teach a child at home than in an institution”, she says. ”The question in quality. The volume of education and the subjects that are provided for by federal state educational standards do not correspond to home schooling. ”
This view was supported by Anna Bitova, director of the Center for Clinical Pedagogy: “Home schooling should contain the same number of classes as school. If the child doesn’t finish the curriculum, people should write to the federal and regional administrations. Parents need to talk more actively about this problem. We must collectively strive to ensure that the right to education is not violated. ”
In addition, Bitova drew attention to inclusion in kindergartens. “An important part of inclusive education is kindergartens. The earlier we start inclusion, the better the result will be for both children and society as a whole. In the regions there are opportunities for children with disabilities to attend preschool institutions, but they are mainly specialised, and not inclusive.”