As defined by UNESCO, inclusive education is “a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion from education and from within education”. This means, inclusive education suggests that schoolchildren and students having special educational needs must have access to education together with other children, in their communities, which is an alternative to the residential care system, home schooling or individual studies. Inclusive education thus offers equal opportunities to all children categories.
Year by year, inclusive education develops rapidly in Ukraine, enhancing in quality and access. And while there is still enough space for improvement, the very first results are there to be seen already now: we are adopting the best foreign practices in educating disabled people, new laws and regulations are being developed and passed, improved educational programs are being introduced (both for students and teachers), workshops and trainings are being carried out for parents whose children have special educational needs; inclusive resource centres are being opened. As a consequence, inclusive classes in general educational institutions annually grow in the number of students. According to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, in the academic year 2016-2017 inclusive classes were attended by 4,180 students, which is by 53.6% higher compared to the academic year 2015-2016. The academic year 2018-2019 has shown a further increase of this indicator.
For this purpose of developing inclusion in Ukraine, United World Cultures Foundation runs a large number of campaigns, with most of them having grown to annual or recurring. Thus, as a part of the program Let's Improve Children's Lives, United World Cultures Foundation and Kyiv City Rehabilitation Centre for Children with Disabilities have organized for the second year running a festive send-off event for first-graders who start school. This year, 13 children who have benefited from a rehabilitation course at the centre, have become students at Kyiv-based comprehensive and specialized schools.
On 30 August 2018, at the event for first-graders and their parents, the children received gifts of backpacks and school supplies such as exercise books, albums, coloured paper, cardboard paper, pens, pencils, felt-tip pens, paints and other necessary things for efficient studies. Besides, musical congratulations at the party were offered by Antonina Fedorenko, a 3rd year student of Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Arts.
“The ceremony of handing over school backpacks to future first-graders is a special, traditional and really important event at the Centre, seeking to support the very first steps being taken by our students on the way of exploring a new learning process, inspire them for new achievements and highlight their talents and abilities. Every one of them has already made huge progress in sports, music, dancing and various arts. Some congratulations have also been prepared by children who are now attending the English language camp – they have made a video for future first-graders”, says Oleksandra Kondratiuk, the Centre’s leading specialist for public and media relations.
We at United World Cultures Foundation wish first-graders to have a good and easy start at school, get high marks, make kind and reliable friends, and achieve their most cherished goals!
May this academic year open new horizons for learners in exploring themselves and the surrounding world, inspire teachers with their students’ progress and parents with pride for their children!