How Civil Society Can Best Support Inclusive Education

Not long ago, a mother in Kyrgyzstan tried to register her son Maxim (not his real name) for school. Maxim has Down syndrome, but his mother, like every mother, still has dreams for his future and a desire to provide him with the best education possible.

Because she did not have the option of enrolling him in a “regular” kindergarten, however—and because kindergartens for children with Down syndrome are notoriously inadequate, due to a widespread and mistaken belief that children with Down syndrome are unable to learn—Maxim’s mother wanted to enroll him in a kindergarten for children with cerebral palsy instead.

A requirement for entry into one of Kyrgyzstan’s limited number of specialized kindergartens is going to the city’s “Assessment Center” and gaining the examiner’s permission to attend the special kindergarten or school. But almost immediately upon seeing Maxim, the examiner refused to recommend him to the specialized kindergarten his mother had chosen.

And according to Maxim’s mother, the examiner didn’t even bother assessing Maxim for intellectual disability or cognitive delays. They seemingly made up their mind on first sight.

The injustice of what happened to Maxim and his mother should be self-evident. Sadly, though, her experience is not only not unusual; it’s downright common. Throughout Central Asia and Eastern Europe—and, indeed, throughout much of the world—longstanding and deeply rooted misconceptions about the capacities and rights of children with disabilities are common.

In many cases, to escape stigmatization, parents prefer not to inform teachers that their children have disabilities. But that’s hardly a fair or viable solution. And according to a recent UNICEF estimate, there are 3.6 million children with disabilities in the region who are not in school at all. What about their rights, their dreams, their futures?

These questions don’t have easy solutions. Addressing them will require difficult but necessary conversations, as well as an unprecedented amount of cooperation and information sharing. But in order to find solutions, it is vital that civil society groups, government officials, and practitioners work together. Otherwise, the weight of broken systems will continue to fall on the shoulders of those who can least bear it.

Although there has been progress at the policy level—all the countries in Central Asia and Eastern Europe have become a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities—what is lacking is a bridge to connect civil society groups to government officials and practitioners; and vice versa.

In order to address this need, the Open Society Foundations are working closely with the American University of Central Asia in the Kyrgyz Republic to organize a series of “summer schools” to bring parents, teachers, government officials, and civil society groups together. While these summer schools are just a start, the early results are encouraging.

Already, people from Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Ukraine are trading ideas and recognizing shared obstacles. Already, parents in the region are feeling more empowered to organize and advocate for their children. There are plans to expand these initiatives and to create virtual platform equivalents, too.

We believe that, in the long-term, these initiatives will help change the way people in Central Asia and Eastern Europe think about inclusive education. Because no mother should have to suffer like Maxim’s mother, and because every child has a fundamental right to a quality education—no matter where they come from, and no matter their disability.

Learn More:




It. Is amazing. what.people can achieve when others believe in them , acknowledge their human potential , and see the very best in them !

La UNAH en casi dos siglos de exclusión y reproducción de desigualdades, ha estudiado muy poco o nada sobre el análisis crítico del discurso del aprendizaje a lo largo de toda la vida, especialmente sobre los componentes no formal e informal. El propósito de la investigación fue identificar mecanismos inclusivos para integrar dichos components en el modelo educativo de la UNAH. Se partió de una revisión estructurada de literatura, en los campos del Reconocimiento de los aprendizajes previos, y del Desarrollo Humano Sostenible. Luego una deconstrucción del discurso es desarrollada a todos los niveles de concreción ( mega, macro, meso y micro ), identificando constructos, elementos, y mecanismos que probablemente conducirían a mayor inclusión y / o exclusión. La investigación contribuye a entender como se ha construido el concepto del aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida, ofreciendo categorías integradoras y un marco conceptual que podría direccionar investigaciones futuras, simultáneamente provee conocimientos para diseñar políticas públicas conducentes a inclusión optima y justicia social redistributiva.

Pienso que nosotros como ciudadanos podemos contribuir mucho, en la educación de nuestros hijos y nietos, si nos unimos para luchar contra los prejuicios sociales que la sociedad y peor aun los gobiernos latinoamericanos con sus políticas fallidas tienen para que los niños puedan educarse teniendo alguna discapacidad. A los Gobiernos no les interesa educar a los niños con alguna discapacidad. No hay políticas claras al respecto.
Lo sabemos porque nosotros en familia montamos una plataforma educativa para que los niños puedan prepararse mejor para las pruebas de estado y logren su titulo universitario. Hemos ayudado con nuestros pocos recursos en la educación de 105.000 niños de la población vulnerable , pero cuando insistimos ante las secretarias de educación para que usen la plataforma para todos los niños desde 3 grado de estudio hasta 11 grado, como aula virtual, nos dicen que no hay recursos para apoyarnos y nos toca con tristeza ver la pobre educación de baja calidad que reciben nuestros niños y jóvenes. Queremos incentivar estas ideas de apoyo para que otros se motiven y podamos educar mejor a nuestros niños en cada uno de nuestros países.

un cordial saludo para todos y para las personas participantes de las fundaciones de la sociedad abierta y muchas gracias por apoyar en la inclusión para la educación de los niños con discapacidad.

Great to know open society foundation

Democratic systems. institutions are weakened and least concerned towards public accountability.Strengthening democratic values and correcting flaws in their functioning is a strong need .

Add your voice