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Press Centre (9/2017)

Turkey: The Ministry of National Education, the European Union and UNICEF join forces on Inclusive Early Childhood Education for Children with Disabilities


Like all children, children with disabilities need quality education to develop their skills and realize their dreams, and they have much to contribute to society. Providing them with inclusive education at an early age is key to unlocking their potential.

 


Ankara - 21 September 2017
 
Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a child with special needs is extra hard.At the age of kindergarten -in a way - you have to sell your child to be in the same classroom with his peers. You have to prove that your childwith a disability is not going to shout in the classroom, is not going to harm the children without disabilities and is going to behave like a child. These are the words of Özge Uzun, a well-known anchor woman and a mother of two, one of whom is a child with disabilities. She was speaking in Ankara today at the launch of astrategic initiative to provide children with and without disabilities a fair chance to develop, learn and thrive together, both in the classroom and in their communities.
 
There to listen were more than 200 participants including representatives of government institutions, foreign missions, European Union, United Nations, media, and leading academics and experts in the fields of disability, early childhood, special and inclusive education.

This Inclusive Early Childhood Education for Children with Disabilities project aims to increase the number of children with disabilities enrolled in early childhood education over the next three years. By using evidence-based data the project will increase the awareness of families, caregivers, decision makers and community leaders about inclusive education rights, opportunities, and the importance of school-family collaboration. The project will equip teachers, administrators and other education personnel with the essential knowledge and skills to foster inclusive education environments.
 
In much of the world, children with disabilities continue to be invisible. They are the least likely to go to school, and the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. All too often, these children are hidden away, placed in institutions or simply abandoned because of heavy social stigma or the high cost of specialized care. Their vulnerability is very often further exacerbated by factors such as poverty, gender, minority status and conflict, among others. The end result is that children with disabilities are among the most marginalized and vulnerable human beings in the world.
 
Like all children, children with disabilities need quality education to develop their skills and realize their dreams, and they have much to contribute to society. Providing them with inclusive education at an early age is key to unlocking their potential.
 
Creating a fair chance for children with disabilities through inclusive education
 
This strategic initiative will be implemented through a close partnership between the Ministry of National Education and UNICEF, and with the financial support of the European Union.

Mr. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative in Turkey, declared that, “This project reflects our joint commitment to increase access to education for all children in Turkey, boys and girls, with and without disabilities. To achieve this, we need to lift the veil of invisibility over children with disabilities and give them all available opportunities to succeed and thrive in school and in their communities. It is important for us all to remember that by investing in our children’s education, we are investing not only in their future-but in our own future, too.”  Mr. Duamelle thanked the European Union for its financial support and the Government of Turkey for its efforts to increase access to early childhood education for all children.
 
The Government of Turkey has made a strategic choice to increase the number of children with disabilities enrolled in early childhood education over the next three years. This important initiative also benefits from a strong partnership with the EU.

Mr. Gabriel Munuera Vinals, Deputy Head of EU Delegation to Turkey said “We are glad to work with UNICEF and the Ministry of National Education, with their vast experience and skills to overcome remaining challenges of preschool education, particularly when it comes to integrating children with disabilities. Without addressing the situation of children with special needs, no country can establish a fair and successful education system.’

Dr. Muammer Yıldız, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of National Education, stated that: “In schools where inclusive education is implemented each students’ contribution is unique and in those classrooms values are diversified. In this type of supportive educational environment in which the principles of inclusive education are adopted, each child feels safe and develops a sense of belonging to the school community. In this respect, all of our students and their parents can play a meaningful role in their learning, setting educational goals and making needs-based decisions. This is an important step for our national welfare and the development of our civilization.”

The launch is followed by a two-day national conference providing a platform for engagement of leading academics and experts in the fields of disability, early childhood, special and inclusive education.

 
 
 
 
 
 

UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org