Training the teachers and their trainers in Inclusive Education
- Bridge of Hope
- Country of Implementation
- CIS and Associated States
- First published
“Moving from Inclusive Education towards employment and a dignified life for people with disabilities.” Ms. Susanna Tadevosyan, Bridge of Hope
In Armenia, there is still a segregated approach to education of young people with disabilities. Pedagogical universities educate general education and special education teachers in separate programmes and departments. Additionally, there is a lack of a support system to inclusive schools when it comes to organizing the education of children with disabilities in mainstream classes. Because of this separation, there is widespread stigmatization of children with disabilities in Armenia, which prevents their full inclusion in society.
Solution, Innovation and Impact
By raising awareness and increasing the understanding of Inclusive Education within the Armenian State Pedagogic University, future teachers will be prepared to meet the diversity of needs of children in a classroom. To achieve this goal several activities have been conducted, including seminars on “Human Rights and Disability,” “Disability Language and Ethics,” and “Social Model of Disability” – attended by some 150 lecturers and 1,200 students from all pedagogical faculties. Later, four film shows were presented on disability and Inclusive Education, followed by interactive discussions and debates among students, lecturers, persons with disabilities, and parents of children with disabilities. Increasing the number of inclusive schools provides a pilot model by which to test and propose clear mechanisms and policy guidelines for the transformation of special schools into psycho-pedagogical support centres. Furthermore, parent support groups were established to encourage parents to send their children to inclusive schools and to provide assistance through that process.
Funding, Outlook and Transferability
The results of the project, which cost about $2.5 million, were evaluated as replicable and effective and were therefore adopted by the government for countrywide expansion. The model of Inclusive Education has also been presented at various international conferences and meetings and is now well-known in many countries in the Caucasus region, in Europe, and in other ex-Soviet countries. The success and effectiveness of the project rests on the leadership role of parents of children with disabilities, disability organizations, and constructive partnerships with all key stakeholders. In 2016 teachers from 225 schools in two remote provinces of Armenia will be trained and their schools will be supported to become inclusive. Further, six special schools will be trained and prepared to be transformed into psycho-pedagogical support centres for inclusive schools.
THE STORY OF A STUDENT FROM “BRIDGE OF HOPE”
“I no longer had the feeling of being different!”
I was born with cerebral palsy and have difficulty moving around independently, but my life was changed when the “Bridge of Hope” centre was opened in my city, Ijevan. It became the place where I could meet many children, make friendships, and take part in a variety of activities just like other children. The next year I started school, and I remember how happy my parents were when they learned that the “Bridge of Hope” Inclusive Education project had enrolled me. At that time I did not understand what Inclusive Education meant or why that news made my parents so happy. What I knew about my school was that it was the best and most beloved place where I always wanted to be, a place where I had a lot of friends and where my teachers were very kind to me. They treated me in the same way as other children, and no one asked me the sort of questions that I used to hear before. What was important for me was that I no longer had the feeling of being different! Now that I am 17, I can understand what was wrong with me, with my family, and with our society. What would I be now if there had not been Inclusive Education in my school? The “Bridge of Hope” Inclusive Education programme has changed my life dramatically. It has shaped my values, my attitude towards myself and towards my disabilities. Now I am studying in one of the best international colleges in the world. I live with 58 nationalities and share my own ideas and values with them about inclusivity and equality. This month I will start to apply to universities in the United States to continue my education, as in future I want to make my own investment in the area of Inclusive Education.