Welcome to e-include, the e-journal of Inclusion Europe.
Children with intellectual disabilities should go to school with other children.
There was a project in Latvia where 18 children with intellectual disabilities went to school with other children.
The project was good for children with intellectual disabilities and their families.
The other children in the school also learned that children with intellectual disabilities are not different from them.
Creating a proper learning environment for children with intellectual disabilities in a comprehensive school is possible. This is the conclusion of a successful project seeking to integrate children with intellectual disabilities in a Latvian primary school. The initiative aimed to encourage social inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities and facilitate the development of human resources in the region.
From 2006 to 2008, the county of Sigulda carried out the first part of the project supported by the European Social Fund, the national government and the local administration. Thanks to the successful implementation of the plan, 18 children with intellectual disabilities from Sigulda had the opportunity to be educated in a comprehensive school. The development of inclusive learning methods in the project "More Primary School" enabled these children to acquire new skills and knowledge, receive psychological support and interact with peers according to their age and capacities.
In addition, not being send to a special school enables children with intellectual disabilities to learn and live close to their families allowing their parents to get involved in the learning and growing process of their child. A survey addressed to 76 families who raise children with disabilities in Sigulda county showed that inclusive education helps families save economic and time resources. Parents also value the co-operation with teachers and their dedication and report significant improvements in the educational development of their children.
The project does not only benefit children with intellectual disabilities, but also to the rest of children, teachers and families. All children at More Primary School have gained from an early age experience in social interaction, facilitating their ability to understand and accept others the way they are, even if they might seem different.
Moreover, the implementation of this plan saved More Primary School from being closed due to the lack of students. Teachers did not have to lose their jobs and received an opportunity to acquire appropriate qualification and experience in working with children with intellectual disabilities.
The success of this first stage of the project led to a second part from 2007 and 2009, which defined many goals towards social inclusion. A third round has also been envisaged to broaden the scope of the educational programmes in More Primary School by focusing on teaching independent living skills to children with intellectual disabilities.
The learning methods developed by More teachers could be applicable in other similar schools. This project is a very good example on how to turn social inclusion into a social benefit for all.