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Instituto comprensivo Giuliano Giorgi, Montorio Romano, Italy- Italian project team opinion at the end of project

European dimension of education



OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING SYSTEMS (Brussels, 14 February 2001):

1.3 Equal opportunities and social exclusion

Education and training are the structural means by which society can help its citizens to have equal access to prosperity, democratic decision-making and personal socio-cultural development. Access to lifelong updating of skills is therefore a key element in the fight against social exclusion and the promotion of equal opportunities in the broadest sense.

promoting equal opportunities in the broadest sense of the term. In this context, particular attention should be paid to vulnerable groups such as people with specific learning problems.

Education and training systems should aim to contribute to the creation of an inclusive society by ensuring that structures and mechanisms are in place to

eliminate discrimination at all levels.

To achieve this, a chain of improvements and implementation of resources, knowledge and techniques is needed:

Improving education and training of teachers and trainers

·      Ensuring access to ICTs for all

·      Facilitating access to all education and training systems

·      Opening up education and training systems to the outside world

·      Improving foreign language learning

·      Increasing mobility and exchanges

·      Strengthening cooperation at European level


European education systems in partners countries - our view

 Croatia: Croatia has inclusion, but there are also schools for children with special needs called Education Centers, and are specialized in specific types of needs such as the Center for Autism, the Center for Children with Disabilities, blind and visually impaired. Early Childhood Education and Care in Croatia is funded and managed by local authorities. Central educational authorities provide legislative guidance, accreditation and monitoring of the educational programs.

Primary education starts at the age of 6 or 7 and consists of eight years of compulsory schooling. Secondary education is not compulsory, but almost all students do enroll into secondary courses upon completing primary level. Depending on the curriculum, secondary schools are divided into:

 Gymnasiums (cover a general education and are mostly a transition to the professional training in colleges, universities and faculties) – 4 year programs,

 Vocational - 3 - 5 year programs

 Art schools (music, dance, art) - 4 year programs

Children with special needs in Croatia are educated in regular schools or in the centers for children with special needs. In regular schools they are included in general curriculum, with adjustments made to the subjects' contents and working methods in regard to the type and degree of disability. They can also follow general education curriculum in the centers but under special conditions or according to a special program. The decision about the type of the education system is made by a commission for determination of psychophysical condition of a child, with parents' consent. Exceptionally, in some regular schools there are special classes for children with developmental difficulties, in which children are taught by defectologists (special needs teachers).

In the Croatian mobility, we learned a new way of inducing concentration and implementing the attention span of pupils through brain gym. We were impressed by the effectiveness of this methodology. In the dissemination phase in our school, we were able to directly observe the benefits for individual pupils and for the whole class. The children are happy to experiment with new forms of "play" and let themselves be guided, with the end result being benefit and enjoyment. In the period following the brain gym, the children are better prepared for the activities presented and the activities are carried out with commitment, concentration, less wasted energy and better learning results.


Slovenia: Slovenia has special education and mainstream schools. However, they also have integrated students with special need. Besides, Slovenia have education centers who are specialized in specific types of needs such as the Center for Cerebral Palsy, the Center for Children with Disabilities, Blind and Visually Impaired.

Slovenian mobility has been food for thought on several fronts. First of all, we have had confirmation that contact with nature and with domestic animals brings us all back to a state of calm, of peace; it brings us into harmony with ourselves and with the world. This contact favours listening to our deepest emotions and feelings, a contact with ourselves and consequently favours the establishment of positive relationships with others, animals or people. The docility of animals allows the sweetness, calm and serenity of those who have made contact with them to emerge.

In Italy, many legal provisions relating to allergies, hygiene and therefore the health and safety of people prevent the practice of hippotherapy at school, leaving it up to personal initiative. Hippotherapy is widespread, as a practice through which the child's balance, muscle tone, coordination and motor awareness are worked on. It brings psychological-behavioural benefits: the main psychological benefit is the increase in self-esteem generated by the small responsibilities assigned to the child.

There is a strong impact on the philosophy that guides Halliwick's practice. The concept combines the area of mental and physical adaptation to water, relaxation, breathing control, balance and the acquisition of basic motor skills in the water. The Halliwick concept is based on the following: introduction to water, motor learning, holistic learning, awareness of abilities and achievements in the water instead of disabilities on land, improvement of the quality of life, integration of children and people with and without disabilities. Not just a simple and fun bath in water, but a process that leads the child to believe more in himself, forgetting the conditioning of a life based on contact with the earth. Water makes possible what the earth can make difficult if not impossible. Wow! A new way of interpreting reality and experience.


Poland: Education of pupils with special educational needs is an integral part of the Polish Education System. The Polish education system allows the choice between three options: mainstream schools, integrated schools and special schools. A need of special education is ascertained in a decision issued after a psychological and pedagogical examination is carried out by specialists from guidance and counselling center for youth and children. Special education is intended for children and young people with disabilities (physically disabled, incl. aphasia, intellectually disabled, blind, visually impaired, deaf, hearing impaired, autistic, incl. Asperger syndrome, with multiple impairments, with social maladjustment or at risk of social maladjustment who require special organization of teaching and learning processes and working methods). Every pupil with a statement of need for special education has his/her individually formulated educational and therapeutic program which is adjusted to his/her needs and psychological and physical abilities. Depending on the special educational needs and type of disability, pupils with disabilities attend special nursery schools, special primary schools, basic vocational schools and schools preparing for employment.

 During the Polish mobility, we had the opportunity to observe the use of BIOFEEDBACK THERAPY. We were struck by the effectiveness of the technology, which allows the students' emotions to be conditioned favourably so that they can understand, through images and colours, their emotional state and, if altered, bring it back into a positive, calm emotional phase. This methodology, if used extensively in all schools, could positively change the learning outcomes of many children with special needs, especially those with altered emotional states.


Turkey: The Ministry of National Education (MoNE) conducts educational activities on a central level in the Republic of Turkey. Each level of education is made up of Pre-School, Primary and Lower Secondary, Upper Secondary and Higher Education. Education level in Turkey consists of preschool, primary, middle, secondary and higher education. 12 years education is mandatory for all students, every each level (primary, middle, secondary) takes 4 years to finish. There are programs for preschool, primary, middle, vocational and technic higher levels which based on education of person with special needs. Besides, there are special education institutions which implement special education programs for primary, middle and higher education levels.

What struck us about the Turkish Mobility was the paintings made by disabled children from one of the schools visited in Istanbul, all the manual-artistic works, made using different techniques, by children who are so fragile, but who convey such serenity. Some of the works in particular impressed us with their beauty and the serenity they conveyed. Considering that they were made by children with serious problems, they proudly showed us their hard work.


Portugal: In Portugal the Public Education System is the most widely used and best implemented, although there are Private Schools at all levels of education. The school network is organized mainly in “Agrupamentos” (School Groups) that integrate educational establishments that provide all levels of education from preschool to secondary education. Education levels consist of preschool, elementary, intermediate and secondary - 12 years of mandatory education for all students - and higher education.

The Portuguese education system is very centralized, both in terms of organization and funding. However, preschool, elementary, intermediate and secondary public education establishments enjoy some autonomy, particularly at the pedagogical level, in the management of school hours and non-teaching staff.

However, new guidelines for curricular flexibility and greater autonomy have recently been published, and schools are implementing and developing new paths.

Public schools offer conditions for greater and higher equality of opportunities to all students. The City Council is also involved, as are other strategic actors such as Parents' Associations and Social and Local Institutions.

Since the Salamanca Declaration (UNESCO, 1994), Portugal is committed to develop an inclusive education. Therefore, all mainstream schools, at all levels of education, have integrated students with special needs that benefit from special programs according to their level of disability.

Currently, there is a Learning Support Center in every school that accompanies students who need help in their teaching-learning process. Furthermore, the Portuguese System includes Vision, Bilingual Education, and Early Childhood Intervention Reference Schools.

There are also Information and Communication Resource Centers and Resource Centers for Inclusion that provide supports in the selection of technological products, Speech and Occupational therapies, Psychology and in the development of Individual Transition Plans when students move forward to active life.

In the Portuguese mobility we were able to observe how the image can convey important messages through the use of a particular methodology of storytelling called KAMISHIBAI. Through the use of a simple tool, the botai, or the use of technology (video, ppt, ebook) to support children who have motor or language difficulties, we can work towards the goal of understanding a story by reading images.

We experienced the use of mandalas to unleash the children's creative powers: colours, materials and techniques for making them can be customised.

The children greatly appreciated the techniques learned, showing greater joy and involvement during the creation of the products.


Tilde Giacomelli

school coordinator

with school project team

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