Ombudsman: children with disabilities not welcome in Russian schools
Anna Kuznetsova, who is the Ombudsman for Children and the Presidential Representative on the Rights of Children, has said that society is still not willing to provide inclusive education. Evidence has shown that mainstream schools are not prepared to accept children with disabilities.
In an interview with TASS, Anna Kuznetsova said that a child joining a mainstream school who behaves differently from other children faces psychological problems because the parents of the other children often object to the child being in the class. The child cannot be excluded on those grounds but he or she can nonetheless be made to feel very uncomfortable.
Over half of schools in the country cannot provide the physical access needed for children with disabilities, only 41% of mainstream schools have the necessary infrastructure. As Kuznetsova remarked, there is also a shortage of tutors and teachers trained in inclusive education who know how to adapt lessons so that they cater for all children. Schools also need to have full-time medical assistance to support children with special needs.
Kuznetsova believes that there needs to be a total overhaul of education programmes as well as an advertising campaign that can change public attitudes towards inclusive education. She stressed the importance of giving the parents of children with special needs a choice, so they can decide whether to send them to a special school or an inclusive mainstream school.