Inclusive Education in European Countries

“All children and young people of the world, with their individual strengths and weaknesses, with their hopes and expectations, have the right to education. It is not our education systems that have a right to a certain type of child. Therefore, it is the school system of a country that must be adjusted to meet the needs of all its children” (Bengt Lindqvist, UN Special Rapporteur).

Inclusive Education is an issue for most countries and many of them have already developed strategies for the implementation of inclusion in their school system. Inclusion has many facets and focuses on equal access to education as well as equal opportunities to succeed and flourish for all. Many of the CIDREE member institutions are among others dealing with the question “How do countries meet individual, social and learning needs to enable learners to reach their potential?”. Special focus was put on the implementation strategies on policy level for e.g. inclusive regions. Therefore an expert meeting on this topic was held in Graz/Austria on 21st/22nd May 2015 as a first step of co-operation, which might result in a collaborative project later on.

The meeting aimed at exchanging experience in the field of inclusion, of course connected to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as far as the school system is concerned. Our primary interests focused on

  • the formal status of SEN in an inclusive system,
  • the allocation of extra resources for children with SEN,
  • the (change of) roles of special schools,
  • quality aspects of inclusive education in a regular school system,
  • dealing with different types of disabilities (sensory, social-emotional, physical, severe and multiple disabilities),
  • the role of advisory centers or similar institutions
  • etc.

13 experts from 9 countries came to Graz to give a presentation about the situation in their respective system touching those aspects. Participating countries were Albania, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland, Slovenia, Sweden, and the host Austria. After the presentations of strategies and experiences in different countries plenary discussions about the different and many times also similar approaches to implementing an inclusive system were held. As a final activity during the expert meeting small teams of two countries drew conclusions and outlined the lessons learned. A compilation of presentations and additional material will be provided for all participants and interested member institutions.

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