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Inclusive education in practice - from lessons learned in Turkey to a classroom wall in Bosnia and Herzegovina

As the teacher prepares to conclude her lessons for the day, in a schoolroom in Edirne, Turkey, the mother of one of the children starts preparing the classroom for the school bell euphoria that will soon commence. It is almost 12 noon, and like all children, these students are impatient to go home and play with their friends. She helps the teacher pack. She prepares the children one by one and even reprimands those that that are too eager to leave the classrooms - they seem to have lost their attention for a moment, when the teacher was giving her final instructions for homework for the next day.

For 14 teachers from the South Eastern Europe region, watching the designated daily “classroom mum” at work was a career-changing experience. As part of the study visit organised by the Joint EU/CoE Project "Regional Support for Inclusive education", they visited schools in Edirne and Konya in Turkey on 16-20 March 2015 to learn more about the inclusive cultures, policies and practices in this country.

But for most of them, this example was the most profound experience of the whole trip.

“The practice of including the children’s parents demonstrates how the whole community is inclusive. We are now trying to introduce this classroom mother practice too”, says Nazlime Muqa, a teacher from the Primary school" Dëshmorët e Kombit" in Kosovo*.

The study visit brought together participants from seven pilot schools from the SEE region with their peers from pilot schools from Edirne and Konya; authorities from the Ministry of National Education (MoNE) and Board of Education (BoE), members of the team of the Inclusive Education project and representatives of the Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights Education project.

Participants discussed various inclusive practices; ethical principles and how these can be related to curricula; approaches to teaching and learning; development of democratic school culture; implementation of school projects and the building of relationships within and beyond schools.

For Aida Basić and Elmadina Begić from the Primary school “Novi Šeher” from Bosnia and Herzegovina the visit and the discussions held were not only helpful, but inspiring as well.

“I hope that I will be able to see a change in my country soon. Politics must be taken away from schools and a chance for progress must be made. This visit convinced me that such thing is possible. This visit gave me hope that there will be changes in my country soon and that the children will be better protected. I personally got new ideas for work and extra motivation to persist in the efforts to work on the index of inclusiveness, to fight for the rights of every single child”, says Elmadina.

After the visit, she now has a new slogan decorating the classroom in which she teaches:"“Every child is important, regardless of the opportunities and conditions in which it was born and the circumstances in which it lives.”

And that is what our project is all about – how lessons learned on a study visit to Turkey can end up on an inspiring slogan decorating a classroom wall in a school in Bosnia and Herzegovina.