Partnerships: Key Factor in Inclusive Education Experiences

Partnerships: Key Factor in
Inclusive Education
Experiences from the ISSA
Exploring Collaboration
in Inclusive Education
UNICEF Meeting
Geneva, 11-12 May 2010
Focus of Presentation
Experiences and lessons learnt by the ISSA
network in promoting inclusive education in
CEE/CIS through a partnership approach.
Based on ISSA’s Belief:
Inclusive education is a process
intended to respond to students’
diversity by increasing their
participation and reducing exclusion
within and from education, especially
those, who are excluded or at risk to
be marginalized.
Real inclusion implies learning at the
highest level and developing the
potential of each child.
Overview of Presentation
• Information on ISSA as professional
umbrella focusing on capacity building
among members and empowering civil
• ISSA Quality Principles – a tool for
defining quality inclusive pedagogy
• Experiences of partnerships at different
levels in promoting inclusive education
• Lessons learnt
Overview of ISSA
With members in 28 countries of CEE/CIS, the
International Step by Step Association (ISSA) is
an international professional association promoting
inclusive high quality education for all children
from the early years, through:
support to educators and organizations
educational resources
opportunities for professional development
family and community involvement in education
advocating for increased access, quality and
investment in early childhood development
Brief History of ISSA
• Established in 1999 in The Netherlands
• After 10 years, with 29 core members, it
continues to build upon OSI’s
investment in and success of the Step
by Step Program and the network
resulting from it in CEE/CIS
• ISSA has grown to become the preeminent ECD network in CEE/CIS and
one of the most respected regional ECD
networks internationally.
What ISSA Addresses in the
CEE/CIS Region
• Limited understanding among policy makers and general
public about importance of the early years.
• Not enough funds invested in ECD; existing funds not
targeted to disadvantaged children (bias and inequalities
in access)
• Lack of needs-driven flexible solutions and ECD
• Quality of ECD experiences and education and the
professional development of the workforce remain
critical issues.
• The civil society: knowledge, skills and dispositions for
active citizenship still evolving
ISSA’s Mission
To support professional communities and
develop a strong civil society that
influences and assists decision makers to:
• provide high quality care and educational
services for all children form birth through
primary school, with a focus on poorest and
most disadvantaged
• support greater inclusion of family and
community participation in children’s
development and learning
• ensure social inclusion and respect for
ISSA’s Vision
With support from family and
community, every child reaches his or
her full potential and develops the
skills necessary for being a
successful and active member of a
democratic knowledge society.
Long Term Impact for ECD
Changes in practice
Development of human capital
Strengthening civil society
Influencing policies
Services to Members
ISSA provides members with a:
• Means to deliver new high quality
early childhood content
• Structure to develop ECD projects and
Strategic Goals 2010-2012
• Promote access and equity of care and
education for young children in the region
• Promote high quality and professionalism in
providing care and education for young
• Promote civil society participation,
community-based ECD and parental
• Enhance the capacity of the ISSA network to
deliver its strategy
ISSA’s Operational Mechanisms
• Community Building: promote values and
link membership into strong community
• Capacity Building: develop resources and
strengthen professionalism in education
• Amplifier: advocacy; public information and
• Convener: network representation and
partnership building
ISSA Definition of Quality
• The ISSA Standards - a set of principles for quality
pedagogy developed by professionals from the region
with input from key experts from around the world;
introduced and used in the region since 2001
• Promote learner-centred, developmentally appropriate
interactive methodology with special emphasis on early
years, supporting professionals and closely engaging
families and communities as partners
• Are supported by instruments and system for selfassessment, ongoing mentoring and certification with an
international system of reliability
• Revised and updated in 2008-2009; re-published as
Principles: Competent Teachers of the 21st Century:
ISSA’s Definition of Quality Pedagogy (2009)
Seven Focus Areas
ISSA’s Understanding of
Inclusive Education
From focus on those who are excluded
or at risk to be marginalized (children with
disabilities, ethnic or linguistic minority) to
focus on the transformation of
education systems and schools so that
they can cater to the diversity of students`
learning needs.
Access without quality is of little meaning
ISSA`s Understanding of
Inclusive Education
In other words “it is not the students
enrolled in school that must adapt to the
existing educational provision, but rather
the school that should be adapted to the
needs of every student, since all students
are different”.
Reaching out to children to
provide quality education
Programs of ISSA and its members target:
• Children with disabilities (physical,
mental – according to official diagnosis in
the countries)
• Children from ethnic, linguistic
minorities (Roma and other minorities)
• Children living in poverty
Levels of Partnership
Levels of Partnership
International level
• Linking with other networks/partners and
international developments and trends
• Partnership with OSI: general support to ISSA,
grants to members for projects, facilitation of
trainings and development of resources
• Cooperation with Council for Exceptional
Children/USA: the mentoring and resources
provided to members, partnership to organize the
2010 Riga Conference Embracing Inclusive
Approaches for Children and Youth with
Special Education Needs
Levels of Partnership
Regional level
- ISSA Network as learning community
- Professional development (mentoring,
- Special Interest Groups (development of
ISSA Standards, Education for Social Justice
- Sharing experience and resources
(publications, research, trainers, study trips)
- Advocating (roundtables, conferences)
Levels of Partnership
National level
What we want to change
•Practice – trainings for teachers, schools
administrators, parents, special educators,
developing and publishing materials
•Attitudes – campaigns, working with massmedia
•Knowledge – research, publications
•Policy/legislation – working groups, training for
Ministries and local authorities, developing
national plans, strengthening coalitions
Example from Bulgaria
Quality education for Roma children in 10 preschools and
20 schools in 10 municipalities
Step by Step Program Foundation (Bulgaria)
National Institute for Curriculum Development (Holland)
Center Education 2000+ (Romania)
Training for teachers
Development of materials for parents
Networking: sharing of good practice
Example from Ukraine
Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons
with Disabilities (CRPD) – December 16, 2009
National Assembly of Persons with Disabilities
Ukrainian Step by Step Foundation
Ministry of Education, Labor and Social Policy
Verhovna Rada – Working Committees
Consultations to Ministries
Public hearings
Publications in mass-media
Lessons Learnt
At the Level of Classroom and School:
1. Cooperation between special and general schools is
valuable for both sides. Special schools have specialists
who can assist inclusion of children with special needs
in mainstream schools.
2. Friendly and supportive environment for all children
within classrooms and schools
3. Importance of professional development opportunities
for teachers.
4. Teachers get support through working together with
other teachers, professionals and families
5. Support from school administrators and local authorities
Lessons Learnt
At National and Regional Level:
• Build broad approach to inclusive education, shared
by all stakeholders - coupled with support for work
with children from specific groups
• Role of networks as possibility to share good practice
and discuss challenges – at all levels (local, national,
regional, international)
• Close partnership with Parents` Organizations – “Do
nothing for us without us”
• Key role of government – need to strengthen their
capacity to promote inclusive education in close
partnership with civil society and private sector
Lessons Learnt
At National and Regional Level (continued):
• Inter-sectoral approach – involvement of educational,
social, health care, financial sectors and policies
• Special schools as source of expertise for inclusion of
children with special needs – re-allocation of
• Strengthen links between schools and society to
enable families and communities to participate in and
contribute to the educational process
• Adopt broad approach to inclusive education
Lessons Learnt
At international level:
Resources – joint development, sharing
Advocacy – join voices - key messages
Networking – communities of learning
Partnerships – coordination and collaboration
Importance of sharing and celebrating
successes at all levels!
Liana Ghent, Executive Director ISSA
[email protected]
Natalia Sofiy, Executive Director USSF
[email protected]