Ensuring the right to education for children with disabilities

Ensuring the right to education for children with disabilities and perspectives for the effective implementation of inclusive education in the Republic of Moldova were the main topics discussed in Chisinau at the National Conference ‘Ensuring the Right to Education for Children with Disabilities’ on 5 December. The event was organized by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research (MECC) together with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF Moldova) and the Alliance of Active Child and Family Protection NGOs (APSCF) in the context of the implementation of the Inclusive Education Development Program in the Republic of Moldova for the years 2011-2020.

The conference gathered around 250 participants – policy makers, development partners, local public authorities, academics, national and international experts. The conference aimed to strengthen the engagement of all actors involved in ensuring the continued development of inclusive education according to internationally ratified documents by presenting the results obtained at national level. The event contributes to raising awareness of the inclusion of children, pupils and students with disabilities in all educational institutions in the Republic of Moldova.

The state secretary of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, Andrei Chistol, said that ‘today, as never before, the education and the related system are constantly adapting to the achievement of quality education for all. No child can be excluded from the education system due to disability. Inclusive education requires the recognition of changes within the entire education system. We agree that there can be no two education systems: general schools and special schools. We acknowledge that we are not in a position to implement this provision immediately as long as we fail to achieve our commitment to ensuring the availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of the education system as a whole’.

UNICEF Country Representative in Moldova Desiree Jongsma remarked that today, almost half of all caregivers and students accept children with disabilities in the usual classes. ‘Six years ago, only a quarter of them were in favor of inclusive education. It is a positive appreciation for the education system. Parents see that schools are more prepared to include children with special educational needs’, added Desiree Jongsma.

‘Education was never more important than in our time. Governments and Families are investing more and more in this process. And our role – civil society organizations – is to support this process when needed or to signal when a child does not have access to quality education, particularly in the case of children with disabilities and their parents, to demand compliance with this essential’, said Liliana Rotaru, president of APSCF.

At the end of the meeting, the participants adopted a resolution whereby authorities, institutions in the fields of education, social assistance and health, parents and civil society members undertake to work together to eliminate barriers and create opportunities for access to education for all children.

According to the data from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research, 9952 children with special educational needs are currently included in the general education institutions of the Republic of Moldova – about 45% more than in 2013, due to their identification through the development evaluation mechanism child.

At the end of the conference took place, for the third consecutive year, the 2018 Gala of Inclusive Education. The “Alexandra Grajdian” trophy for CURAJ AND INNOVATION in the promotion of inclusive education was awarded to the “Alexandra Donici” kindergarten and primary school from Cahul. 6 other educational institutions received special mentions and PECS sets for working with children with special educational needs.