Raifeissen Bank - Uverturii
Bucharest, May 14 2014, European Centre for the Rights of Children with Disabilities (ECRCD) and The Centre for LegalResources (CJR) organized the conference „Where and how do 31.132 disabled children study?”
The goal of the conference was to notify on the alarming rate of unschooled disabled children and to present in a real an objective manner the proposed modifications of the legal frame related to the education of these children, as they are included in the bill regarding the rights of disabled children that is presently in debate in the Romanian Senate - http://www.cdep.ro/pls/proiecte/upl_pck.proiect?idp=14080
Thus, according to the official reports, in Romania are registered 70.647 children with disabilities. According to the same data, 31.132 children are in school, and the rest attend educational programs in special, public or other types of schools. On December 18th 2013, in the UN Thematic Study regarding the right to education of the persons with disabilities, the Romanian Government declared that there are 5.191 children that don’t benefit from educational support and that in Romania we have 1310 support teachers.
In the present public education system, during pre-school period, disabled children do not benefit from sufficient and adequate early intervention services and their parents are forced to spend huge amounts of money to gain access to such services through the private sector. And this is the best case scenario, because a large number of families with disabled children cannot afford sustained assistance in private therapy centers. In addition, almost 10.000 disabled children are institutionalized in orphanages or in foster care centers and they are either simply not included in the public educational system or they are mistreated. “We believe that the proposed bill is a solution to the free access to education issue for these children that are often over sedated, deprived of vocational habilitation and rehabilitation therapies, unmonitored and efficiently cared for.”(Georgiana Pascu, Project Manager, CJR)
For Romanian children with disabilities education stops in the 8th grade, before high-school, since the special education system is conceived to not provide further education. The quality of education and programs in special schools makes the continuation of studies almost impossible in the mainstream institutions, after graduating from 8 gymnasium classes in a special schools.
The mainstream schools are not adapted to the disabled children needs, both physically and educationally speaking. The number of support teachers is extremely small or inexistent, and teachers are not trained to properly to manage such children.
The proposed draft law regarding the rights of children with disabilities recommends the following solutions:
1. Establish early intervention centers destined to train and prepare children for school.
2. Reform the educational system as follows:
The above scheme describes the recommended educational and treatment route of a disabled child. For a better understanding of the terms used, here are the explanations for each of them.
Early Intervention Centers = Special units subordinated to General Direction for Social Assistance and Child Protection (GDSACP), established through the reorganization of the special day care centers. The centers are designed to provide treatment or early intervention for children with all types of disabilities so that they can later be successfully integrated in the mass educational system. The centers can also function as state authorized private companies.
Adapted Mainstream schools = Kindergartens, primary schools, gymnasiums, high schools that will apply a series of minimum mandatory accessibility and physical and intellectual/informational environment adaptability standards that help accommodate the special needs of disabled children.
Inclusive mainstream schools = Some of the mainstream schools will have higher accessibility and adaptability standards so that disabled children can be efficiently included. That would mean a sufficient number of aide teachers, adapted manuals, special equipments etc.
The number and geographical positioning of the inclusive schools will be established by analyzing the number and localization of disabled children, but not less than 1 school per county or sector.
Ability school = The special schools will be available exclusively for severe disability cases and will be adapted as such.
The algorithm for establishing the number and localization of ability schools will be the same as the one for inclusive schools, but no less than 1 school / county or sector.
Nonformal educational units = They will be established through the reorganization of some of the special schools and they will function as after-school complementary educational centers for disabled children that attend the mass schools or inclusive schools. The units will provide therapy and additional help with understanding and memorizing the information received in school.
Equally, in order to insure a correct standard of the educational act, the motioned draft law establishes monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for the activity of the educators and other specialists that provide early intervention services for disabled children.
“The draft law on the rights of children with disabilities is currently under public debate in the Romanian Parliament. I consider all the attacks and propaganda coming from the teachers’ unions as being unjustifiable and worrying. The unions’ actions also help spreading false or incorrect information regarding the amendments of the bill. The special schools will not be terminated, they will simply be reorganized, and thus the educators won’t lose their jobs. We are very interested and open to start an honest dialogue, to discuss constructive solutions in regards to this motioned bill and we are hoping to closely collaborate with all social actors to resolve the terrible situation of the children with disabilities in Romania” said Madalina Turza, CEDCD president.