To what extent are schools and public ready for it
Inclusive education is implemented in 182 ( out of the total 1232) schools in Armenia. The entire general education system is expected to shift to the inclusive basis by the end of 2025.
JAMnews has checked practical efficiency of schools implementing the inclusive education. A number of problems have been revealed.
1. The inclusive school buildings are not fit for children enrollment
Ramps for wheelchairs must be both, outside and inside a building, but most of them can be only seen on the schools’ first floors. Buildings are not designed for children with musculoskeletal (locomotor) system diseases. Nothing has been envisaged for a child with musculoskeletal system problems, who has a lesson on the third floor. Some children refuse to go to school exactly due to such problems. Nowadays, the inclusive schools are mainly attended by children with less serious health problems.
2. WCs in inclusive schools are not fir for children with disabilities
These are typical school WCs, many of theme in deplorable condition.
3. In inclusive schools there are no adapted gyms and trainers with special knowledge of how to work with children with various physical problems.
4. The inclusive school special classes are not adapted, not provided with necessary equipment
However, teachers believe that classes, where teacher-specialists work with children with special educational needs, should be light and bright; desks must be comfortable; special working tools are required so as to make, through games and pictures, the training process more accessible and pleasant.
5. Inclusive schools are lacking professional specialists
A team of different specialists should work with children with special educational needs. A general education teacher, a special education teacher, a psychologist and a speech therapist, should work with such children irrespective of their number and peculiarities. In fact, it is hard to recruit such a comprehensive team.
6. Drawing up a curriculum
This curriculum should be drawn up individually for each student, jointly by teachers and parents. However, many parents do not even know about the possibility to jointly draw up a curriculum, and some teachers do not pay much attention to developing individual curriculum.
7. Children with special educational needs are seen as unhealthy and unfit
Some teachers still believe that children with special educational needs are brought to school ‘just to take a child out, so that he/she can communicate.
8. Lack of advanced training courses for teachers
Apart from specific knowledge about inclusive education, teachers should also develop skills in their major. When working with children with special educational needs, the questions are often raised, that teachers have no answer to.
9. Inclusive education should start from pre-school institutions
Children are locked up home until the age of 6 and then are taken to school. They are experiencing certain psychological problems, stress; the integration process is quite difficult for them.
10. Schools (alike the major part of the society) still have a biased, discriminatory, stereotypical attitude towards children with special educational needs.
- Since 2000, introduction of inclusive education as part of the general education reforms, has been declared one of the priorities of the Armenian government. The Law on Education of Individuals with Special Educational Needs was passed in 2005; afterwards, the inclusive education has been included in the state-run education development programs.