Challenges faced in inclusion of children with severe disabilities, webinar

The education system ensures the right to education for children with severe disabilities only at theoretical level. In practice, these children do not enjoy equal chances at central, district and local levels, said Agnesia Eftodi, expert in inclusive education at Lumos Moldova Foundation that acts to deinstitutionalize children. In a webinar centering on inclusive education, Agnesia Eftodi said that assistance bodies and services need to be developed for these children in each school. At the same time, basic and normative indicators should be identified so that an education institution is supported in developing bodies and services for the inclusion of children with severe disabilities, IPN reports.

At the end of 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics, in Moldova there were 10,684 children with disabilities. Over 80% were children with severe and accentuated disabilities. Agnesia Eftodi said that if contrasting the total number of children in the county with that of children with disabilities, who represent about 2% of all the children, it is determined that not all the children attend education institutions. “If we remove one third from the over 8,000 children with severe and accentuated disabilities, those aged between 0 and 3, will we have children with severe disabilities in schools and kindergartens? No! The same Bureau of Statistics says that there were only 247 children with disabilities included in the educational process last year,” stated Agnesia Eftodi.

Livica Cațer, head of the Ungheni Regional Resources Center for Inclusive Education, said the center’s mission is to ensure the right to education for all the children, at district level. Their institution employs preschool teachers, while the general education institutions – psychologists, logopedists, psycho-pedagogues and kineto-therapists. The center is financed with funds provided by the Ungheni District Hospital. Among its beneficiaries are children with emotional and behavioral disorders, with retardation and intellectual disabilities or with severe learning difficulties, physical disabilities, neuromotor, hearing or speech impairments.

Vera Balan, principal of the Ialoveni Theoretical Lyceum “Petre Ștefănucă”, noted that their lyceum developed a support system for children with severe disabilities through the agency of particular specific services and bodies. “Each year in August, our institution sets up a multidisciplinary internal commission whose duty is to identify and assess children with disabilities and to ensure their educational inclusion. We also create teams responsible for the drafting and implementation of the individualized education plan. The institution includes a resource center for inclusive education that offers educational support to children with special educational needs,” stated Vera Balan, noting they also have a model for the inclusion of children with severe disabilities and complex needs that has been applied since 2016.

For more efficient inclusion of children with severe disabilities, the principal recommends studying and disseminating the practices existing in the education system, developing and adjusting them, and also reviewing the personal units so as to ensure the high-quality inclusion of all the children and designing coefficient-based financing mechanisms that would ensure appropriate assistance for all the children.

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