“They find dignity and a sense of purpose”
I have been working as a counsellor for students with special needs since 2010. I see on a daily basis how many of my students now continue to university, because they have noticed that others have been able to succeed in that environment. It is a wonderful feeling to see the beam in their eyes thanks to their newly found dignity, sense of purpose, and independence when they realize that an academic life at a university is truly accessible to them. At awareness-raising events, I have met students, cloakroom staff, and even cleaning ladies who have come to me to say how great it is that there are so many disabled students studying at Tallinn University of Technology (TUT). I have seen students with neck injuries able to study alone, to live in dorms, and to put on clothes with the help of a motorized bed. They are happy, independent, and capable of pursuing their futures and careers as valuable members of society.
I suppose one has to have lived in a post-Soviet state to realise how remarkable it is that in such few years both the older and the younger generation have seen and welcomed so many changes as part of their everyday life. By providing funding to people with disabilities and by giving them a push to try something that had previously been considered unthinkable and too expensive, the Primus programme has achieved a lot: greater awareness, accessibility, and joy for disabled people.
Learn more about Estonia’s Primus Programme improving access to higher education for students with disabilities.