The right to youth education
- The right to youth education
- Danish Ministry of Children and Education
- Country of Implementation
- Northern Europe
- First published
“Without the youth education provided by the Act, most of the young people with special needs would have no other way in order to develop their skills and to participate in their communities.” Dan R. Schimmell, Special Policy Advisor for Education and Employment, Landsforeningen LEV
Many young people with mental or intellectual disabilities leave school early, have no qualifications and, as a result, mostly attend day care centres and sheltered workshops. In Denmark this situation is changing, since a right to a three-year youth education has been established. HISTORY: in Denmark, despite a ministerial order on special educational support in vocational education and training and general legislation outlining more or less directly that teaching needs to be accessible to all, young people with learning disabilities rarely participated in any education or training after school. Therefore major reforms have been recently introduced in the Danish education system. Inspired by the Act on Special Education for Adults, under which adults with functional difficulties of a physical or psychological nature have been entitled, since 1980, to compensatory special education, the Act on Secondary Education for Young People with Special Needs No. 564 came into force on 1 August 2007. This act established for young people with learning disabilities and other students with special needs who do not have the opportunity to conclude a secondary education, a right to a three-year youth education after compulsory primary and lower secondary education. Since the act is fairly new, its full impact is not yet fully known. An evaluation of the act planned for the school year 2011/2012 was postponed, possibly due to political concerns that it would result in an amendment that would increase the cost of the programme. SUMMARY: Many young people with mental or intellectual disabilities leave school early, have no qualifications and, as a result, mostly attend day care centres and sheltered workshops. In Denmark this situation is changing, since a right to a three-year youth education has been established. The Danish Act No. 564 of 2007 enables young people with special needs who are not able to complete mainstream education to attain personal, social and - to the best extent possible - vocational competencies through a three-year youth education after primary and lower secondary education. The aim is to be an independent citizen in adulthood and to attend further education as well as to gain employment. The youth education is based on a person-centred curriculum planned together with the young person, parents and youth guidance experts. It can take place in different schools or in the form of work experiences, and is completed with a certificate.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
A rights-based approach Often the right to education is denied. With this law, young people with special needs are entitled to person-centred education and training. Person-centred curriculum With an individualised plan the three-year youth education allows people to maximise their abilities and opportunities. The bridge between school and employment Youth education promotes personal development, enhances the individual’s experience of work and cooperation and ability to engage in social contexts, and provides insights into the structure and working conditions at a workplace. Sustainable use of financial resources Youth education reduces care needs, improves everyday health and enables young people with special needs to live independently and gain employment. KEY FEATURES: The Danish Act on Secondary Education of Youth with Special Needs No. 564 of 6 June 2007 provides young people having mental or intellectual disabilities or people with special needs, who are not able to complete mainstream education, a right to a three-year youth education after primary and lower secondary education, which can be attended from 16 until 25 years of age. Youth education starts with a process of up to 12 weeks that uncovers the person’s wishes and opportunities for future training and employment, and consists of three years of training following a person-centred curriculum which is based on the young person's qualifications, maturity and interests, and which is planned together with the young person, the parents and youth guidance experts. Comprising a minimum of 840 hours annually, it can take place in different kinds of schools or in the form of work experiences, with the aim of getting a job, living a more independent life and reducing care needs. It can be adjusted each year and is completed with a certificate. While the Ministry of Children and Education is the overall coordinator, the municipalities are responsible for awareness raising and for bearing the costs of the education, transport and special assistance needed. It was estimated that 2.3% (almost 4,100) of young people per year would take advantage of the Act’s provisions. However, in 2012, more than 5,000 people have already enrolled in youth education. About 70% of students have learning difficulties and developmental disorders. Of the 1,300 who have completed youth education so far, 20% have found a job or attained further education. All have gained skills to live more independently and to actively participate in adult life. Both students and employers are satisfied with the education. Currently, Greenland is interested in implementing it.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
As the demand for the programme grows, there might be the unintended consequence of creating educational pathways or settings which persons with disabilities follow separately from mainstream education.