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Complementing efforts for teacher preparation on inclusive education

Teacher training modules to better prepare teachers in creating fully accessible and participatory class environments that will successfully stimulate children craving for success – were introduced at the recent Regional Inclusive Education Teacher Preparation Workshop organised by UNICEF and the Zurich University of Teacher Education.

Representatives of UNICEF country offices, Ministries of Education, NGOs, teachers and universities from Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States gathered in Zurich to participate in the workshop that was held from 30 March to 02 April 2015, as part of the processes to enhance inclusive education.

During the workshop, participants gained an insight into the training modules for inclusive education prepared by Judith Hollenweger from the Zurich University of Teacher Education, in cooperation with a team from “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, including members of UNICEF, NGO’s and schools.

“Developing high expectations for each child has in fact the highest effect on achievement”, said professor Hollenweger. “Inclusive education is about creating meaningful learning situations for all children, and teachers can do it by being aware of learning opportunities; matching learning opportunities with goals and adapting learning environments with students’ situations.”

For this to be achieved, as she said, the next most important factor is how teachers are supported at work through feedback and formative evaluations. This is the reason why teacher preparation, through initial teacher education and continuous professional development is the focus of a number of organisations, agencies and governments, including those in South East Europe.

Members of the Joint EU/CoE  project “Regional Support for Inclusive Education” also participated in this workshop aiming to strengthen cooperation with the UNICEF Regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States in promoting and providing technical capacity for teacher education for inclusive education. Practical lessons learned and field experiences from the Project were also presented at the workshop.

Concepts and approaches of the Project and UNICEF's work on teacher education are complementary to each other, so at the meeting it was agreed that a stronger alliance at the regional and Beneficiary level would create a sustainable impact of efforts in the teacher education area. The Project will contribute in this regard with a generic and guiding tool that aims to support the process of improving teacher training programmes for inclusive education, while the modules produced by UNICEF provide trainers with specific and practical ways on how to train teachers for inclusive education.