04 SES 02 A, Enquiring about National Systems of Inclusive Education
Over the last decade, with the help of UNICEF, international organizations and the civil society, the Armenian government has been developing efforts to reform the education system and promote inclusive education by expanding the network of inclusive schools and increasing budgetary allocations to children with special education needs. As a next major step the Ministry of Education plans to gradually transform special schools into resources centres supporting inclusive education. Accordingly with the new spectrum of challenges, there was an overall dissatisfaction with special education needs assessment process. Children’s assessment was primarily summative, heavily based on medical diagnosis, and was used to determine the eligibility to receive inclusive education support (increased per-capita funding) or to direct the child to a special school based on the parent’s choice. It did not have enough formative elements to help the teachers with the individual education planning (UNICEF, 2012). The identified need was then to review the special education needs assessment and individual planning procedure based on the best international practice and aligned with the framework provided by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, version for children and youth, ICF-CY (WHO, 2007). To achieve this aim the UNICEF Armenia engaged the team from Porto Polytechnic Institute – with experience in the evaluation of special education policies and, specifically in the use of ICF-CY as reference in children’s assessment, eligibility and intervention processes (Sanches-Ferreira et al., 2013a, 2013b) – which mission was to support the local team of experts from the Medical-Psychological-Pedagogical Assessment Centre, responsible for the assessment of children’s special education needs in Armenia. The consultants’ role was driven by two expected outcomes: (1) a revised package of tools and methodology for special education needs assessment; (2) an effective methodology for the definition of Individual Education Plans based on the children’s assessment.
The literature is clear in highlighting the importance of looking carefully at processes beneath the implementation of changes in educational systems and not leaving it to the motivation and skill of people who will adopt changes (e.g. Greenhalgh et al., 2004; Levin, 2010). Therefore, understanding the process of consultancy, developed within an international partnership, is an important part of understanding exactly what works in the implementation of changes in policies’ frameworks, institutions’ philosophy and professionals’ daily practices.
This paper aims to describe the process of this consultancy project, taking the position that the interaction of Portuguese consultants with local expert group and the engagement of UNICEF as an advocate for children’s rights and a provider of policy advice was an instrumental part fostering changes in special educational needs assessment in Armenia educational system.
Greenhalgh, T., Robert, G., Macfarlane, F., Bate, P., & Kyriakidou, O. (2004). Diffusion of Innovations in Service Organizations: Systematic Review and Recommendations. The Milbank Quarterly, 82(4), 581–629. Levin, B. (2010). Governments and educational reform: Some lessons from the last 50 years. Journal of Education Policy, 25(6), 739–747. Sanches-Ferreira, M., Simeonsson, R., Silveira-Maia, M., Alves, S., Tavares, A., & Pinheiro, S. (2013a). Portugal’s special education law: implementing the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health in policy and practice. Disability & Rehabilitation, 35(10), 868-873. doi:10.3109/09638288.2012.708816 Sanches-Ferreira, M., Lopes-dos-Santos, P., Alves, S., Santos, M., & Silveira-Maia, M. (2013b). How individualized are the Individualized Education Programmes (IEPs): an analysis of the contents and quality of the IEPSs goals. European Journal of Special Needs Education. 28(4), 507-520. UNICEF (2012). Access of Children with Disabilities to Education, Health and Social Protection Services in Armenia. Yerevan: UNICEF. WHO. (2007). International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, version for Children and Youth (ICF-CY). Geneva: World Health Organization.
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Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
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Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
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