Ukrainian school promotes inclusion for students with disabilities

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December 3 was the Day of Persons with Disabilities, an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. Observance of this day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. This school in Kyiv has been a staunch supporter of inclusive education.

It’s 8 and the school bus is dropping students off at school. Some kids exit by themselves, others are helped by caregivers. Some, like Katya, bring their parents with them. Katya studies at a school with inclusive education. This cheerful girl has many hobbies, with dancing, English, and drawing among her favorites.

Kateryna Tomasheva, 10th Grader

My favorite subjects are English and biology. In my free time, I like to read and draw. I attend design courses at school.

Semion is Katya’s long-time friend. They share a desk at school. Both teenagers have cerebral palsy, but this doesn’t affect their academic performance.

Natalya Verchynska, Teacher of Ukrainian Language and Literature

I never considered children with special needs to be different from others. Because they have no problems, they are all able to learn, dance, sing and can be on an equal footing with their peers. They are no different, and in some subjects, they become the best.

Parents of children who require special domestic and educational conditions are ready to travel all the way from the suburbs in order to take them to the barrier-free school.

Svitlana Krupa, Student’s Mother

We also went to the preschool here, our son was 5. We were brought here by my husband in the morning, and in the evening the bus took us to Kyiv. Then we went for a walk, waited, and then my husband took us home after work.

The school has a well-equipped gym, and students have time for a bit of exercise right in the middle of lessons. They enjoy the chance to practice their motor skills and to take a rest from studying. Everyone participates, even though every sixth child here is has a disability.

Natalya Kravchuk, Headteacher

The school has about 600 pupils; 104 children currently have special educational needs. Most of them are children with cerebral palsy, 32 of them are in wheelchairs.

Since September 2017, all Ukrainian schools are obliged to accept children with disabilities. This is required by the law on inclusive education. Meanwhile, most schools still need to make physical preparations in order to accommodate all children with special needs, such as removing door thresholds, removing unnecessary steps, and installing elevators.

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