This is a gifted child, not a disabled child

junho 30, 2008

Imagem: © UNESCO/ Michel Ravassard

"27-06-2008 - “We strive for an education system where all children are included and not separated into different groups,” said UNESCO’s Assistant Director General for Education, Nick Burnett, during a meeting on inclusive education that gathered a group of disabled children from Russia this week.

Kouznetsov, eleven years old, was among the children visiting UNESCO. He wants to be a sound engineer and translator when he grows up. For now Kouznetsov, partly blind and unable to walk, speaks four languages, plays the flute and sings in foreign languages.

He benefits from a grant given by the Russian ‘Filantrop’ fund. Founded in 1990, this fund aims to give disabled children access to regular education systems by, among others, ensuring that all new building projects in Moscow have special access for handicapped individuals.

“The main goal of the fund is to encourage disabled children to study and to take an active part in the life of society,” says Mr Ilya Konkin, Director General of Filantrop Fund.

There is increasing recognition that it is better for children with special needs to attend regular schools, albeit with various forms of special support. Children with disabilities who are given the opportunity and access regular education systems enrich themselves and their classmates.

“Finnish researchers are using results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment to demonstrate that inclusive classrooms do not reduce the learning outcomes of the highest achievers but rather improve the learning of children with difficulties,” says a member of UNESCO’s team working on Inclusive Education Ms Jill van den Brule. This along with other results will be presented at the next International Conference on Education on ‘Inclusive Education: the way of the future’ that will be held in Geneva from 25 to 28 November 2008.

Promoting inclusive practices is crucial for reaching the Education for All goals. UNESCO’s inclusive education team works on policy (curriculum development, advocacy); changing attitudes in society (demonstrating that children with disabilities can have a positive impact in the classroom by imparting skills on learning to live together and promoting peer teaching); and at classroom level (basing results not only on traditional grading systems).


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