The best inclusive education policies are those that are drafted inclusively. At least, that is the shared impression of many teachers, parents, children and other stakeholders involved in the process of creating regional policy recommendations for inclusive education.
Three regional networks were created with the support of the Joint EU/CoE Project “Regional Support for Inclusive Education” in the SEE Region to help the development of regional policy changes that will bring greater inclusion in the schools throughout the region. During 2014, the inclusive PolicyNet, the School Net and the TeacherNet jointly worked on this issue through consultation, exchange of knowledge, ideas and experience, regional policy recommendations for inclusive education were drafted.
Now, before publicly presenting the final Regional Policy Recommendations for Inclusive Education, PolicyNet focal points from the SEE region have started with visits to the 49 pilot schools involved in the Regional Support for Inclusive Education to get some feedback on the designed recommendations. The visits are also expected to help identify appropriate practical examples that will further strengthen the need for implementation of these recommendations.
“In the schools we visited, I sensed real commitment of the teams to the pilot-projects implementation. Their satisfaction with having all of the students, teachers, school management, parents and local communities involved in the implementation of these activities was as evident as was their happiness from the fact that together they contributed to developing the social inclusion. And even more than that – I could see pride and joy on the faces of the teachers because their work had its achievement”, said Nataša Borović, PolicyNet focal point for Montenegro.
To assist in the process of creating these recommendations, the Inclusive Education project provided several evidence-based suggestions in the form of studies and research. The stakeholders involved in the process were able to use the baseline study which measured the nature, extent and level of awareness of inclusive education in all 49 Pilot schools and the inclusive education mapping report. They also used the findings from focus groups with key stakeholders conducted to provide evidence for a more targeted and needs-based support for the creation of the school development plan and development of school projects.
If sharing is caring, then the only way to show real commitment in creating a more inclusive educational environment in the South East Europe region seems to be through greater networking.
“It is necessary to continue working on strengthening ties in the regional networks because our joint work contributes to making our schools places where every child is welcome, every parent is involved and every teacher is valued”, said Ms Borović.