Progressive policies in inclusive education have made positive changes in the lives of children with disabilities in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to UNICEF.
More schools are welcoming first grade children with disabilities in Serbia as a result of years of policy advocacy. Huge nationwide awareness raising campaigns in Montenegro and strong engagement of civil society in promoting inclusion in Armenia have led to increased public demands for inclusive schools, UNICEF said.
At a briefingfocusing on the issue of children with disabilities this week during a meeting of UNICEF’s Executive Board in New York, other governments and donor communities were urged to support policies that realized all children’s right to quality education as one way to reduce inequities created by social exclusion.
The Permanent Representative of Armenia, Karen Nazaryan, speaking on behalf of the government focused on the importance of making a strategic shift from grassroots school-level work to a comprehensive policy effort, including the transformation of special schools.
In particular, Mr. Nazaryan mentioned that Armenia has made tangible progress in ensuring the rights of children with disabilities, especially in the area of education. Today 1700 children with disabilities are studying in close to 100 inclusive schools and this number will increase with the adoption of amendments to the Law on Education currently being discussed by the National Assembly of Armenia.
Among challenges Mr. Nazaryan emphasized high poverty rates among children with disabilities, lack of comprehensive services as well as stereotypes and discrimination towards persons with disabilities, including children, and their ability to become full-fledged members of the community.