Inclusive Education: Take Action!

Inclusive Education: Take Action!

September 11, 2019 1 By Ronny Jaskolski


On the 16th of October 2015 the
Luxembourg presidency of the European Union hosted the Agency’s fourth hearing
entitled ‘Inclusive education: Take Action! 72 young people with and without
disabilities had the opportunity to discuss how their schools and
communities ensure an inclusive education for them and what potential obstacles
they are still facing in their education and their day-to-day lives. Their call
for action has been collected in the form of recommendations for policy
makers and they will be presented to the Council of Ministers during the
Education Culture and Sport meeting on the 23rd of November 2015. The event
gathered two hundred and fifty participants and stakeholders from all
the Agency member countries as well as policy makers and representatives from
European and international institutions. The Luxembourg Minister for Education,
Children and Youth, Claude Meisch adressed the young people, stating that “we need your
contributions. Let’s take action! Martine Reicherts,
Director of the European Commission’s DG for Education and
Culture, emphasised that within the Commission’s strategic framework Education and Training 2020, inclusion of students into mainstream education is the stated priority, and that
young people deserve concrete actions. In preparation for the event, the
secondary education students representing 27 Agency member countries
had the opportunity to discuss key issues with their peers and teachers in
their schools. The questions for discussion referred to ways in which their schools support
them in their education, examples of how teachers and classmates
take into account their needs, accessibility, class organization and
suggestions for ways to overcome remaining barriers to inclusion. At the
event in Luxembourg young delegates shared their own personal experiences and transmitted their peers messages as well. The aim of the event was to empower and ensure the
involvement of learners in shaping educational policies. The young people made
their voices heard in Luxembourg. Teacher education and co-operation among all stakeholders It is important that teachers know which strategies to use. Teachers need to be more attentive to younger students and recognize their
needs early and support them early. What is important is the cooperation amongst teachers
themselves as well as teachers and pupils. More respect and understanding
for teachers. Involve students and parents in decisions. Information and awareness raising. Raise awareness about disabilities. No separate
buildings and classes so we can help each other. Having different levels in a
classroom prevents bullying and support mutual understanding. We should establish
more common activities between students, with and without disabilities. Such
activities can help to get to know each other and could help the children
without disabilities to understand the children with disabilities as well as
with differences. This can support mutual understanding and tolerance and
respect from young age. Schools without barriers. How the school avoids and removes physical
barriers? Elevators and stair climbers in many schools. But sometimes a key is needed
that is not given to students. Materials and labels available in Braille. Some
materials are available electronically Accessible bathrooms available. Adapted materials are made available that
suit the needs of learners with disabilities. The decision to get a support teacher
should be made by the student, the parents and the teacher. Students are
not always asked whether they want to be placed in a support class, but they should.
Avoid heavy bags and books and replace with e-books. Equal access to everyone.
… offer social and psychological support. Such as a room to calm down, to take some time out. We have selected a quote which summarizes this topic. Diversity is the mix. Inclusion is what
makes the mix work. Several messages have been repeated by the young people
throughout the four hearings. Students called for schools without barriers. more
teacher education and more information and awareness raising for schools,
communities and society as a whole. They agreed that peer support among students
is generally good, but it’s crucial to be included in mainstream schools in order
to be included in society. The young people’s voices must be
listened to and taken into account. Their discussions and recommendations constitute a body of knowledge from the
perspective of learners with disabilities, which will influence the
debate in Europe on how to implement inclusive education in practice. See
the more detailed results online on the Take action web area of the event and follow the
news from the Agency on its news section. I will bring the Luxembourg recommendations established by young
people and children with disabilities from all EU member states to the next
Council of the EU Ministers for Education and Training.