This year's theme of the Ecumenical Social Week "Education for Changes: Spirituality and Innovations" inspired the specialists of the Center "Dzherelo" to create an event which would gather experts and interested in the educational topic people for discussion and cooperation.

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So appeared the idea of the Round Table, which was successfully implemented on October 3, 2015 in the walls of the Ukrainian Catholic University.

Discussion in the hall brought together city representatives, clergy, educators, specialists on inclusive education, social workers, parents of children with special needs, public sector workers, students.

Speakers shared their experience and outlined the necessary steps to build the education system for children with special needs. Were discussed such topics as: value of life of every person, regardless of his or her intelligence, importance of early interventions program for child development, teaching special children, inclusion, integration, specialclasses, legislative aspect of the educational system, architectural accessibility of education establishments.

The round table was started with a presentation of speakers and guests, and welcoming speech of the President of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Dr. Iwan Dacko. Moderators of the round table were: Oksana Vyniarska, Psychotherapeutist, Pedagogical Director of the program "Medical, Psychological and Social Support for People with Special Needs" of the Institute of Ecumenical Studies at the Ukrainian Catholic University, Member of the Supervisory Board of the Center "Dzherelo" and Natalia Siredzhuk, Acting Head of Social Projects and Development of the Training and Rehabilitation Center "Dzherelo".

The discussion began with a short video content from the Italian movie "Child of the month." Then the speakers in turn talked about their experience and highlighted thoughts on inclusive education.

Anna Haiduchok, Director of the " Dzherelo", and Teresa Falasenidi, expert in social work, shared the experience of the Centre on the implementation and development of education for children with special needs and the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to teaching a child.

Zoriana Dovhanyk, Head of Lviv City Council Education Department, stressed that today not all schools are ready to accept children with special needs. It is necessary to work both – within indoors and with staff, parents and the authorities.

Fr. Serhii Dmytriev, Deputy Head of the Synodal Department for Social Service and Charity UOC MP, presented the results of his work with children in the East. As a spiritual person he had many proposals to establish relations with other links in the educational process.

Christina Angles d'Oriak, native of France, is a Director of the Center for Spiritual Support for People with Special Needs "Emmaus" at the UCU. Her report was based on the example of inclusive education in France. Christina picked up a number of neat abstracts that showed how the integration of people with special needs into society defines level of nation’s civilization.

Jaroslav Hrybalskyi, representative of the National Assembly of the Disabled of Ukraine (NADU), regional coordinator of the project CIDA «Inclusive education of children with special needs," began his speech with disappointment with the architectural inaccessibility of not only educational establishments but other buildings of the city. He emphasized that the discussion of this issue should have been the first among others, as it determines accessibility of education as a whole.

Summing up the presentations of speakers and formulated theses, we have the following suggestions and steps that could enable or accelerate implementation of quality education for children with special needs.

We appeal with a request to the authorities, namely to the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine:

  • to organize educational meetings and workshops for teachers and educators, on which it could be possible to disseminate the information about the characteristics of children with special needs and to teach experts the new approaches in their studies;
  • to initiate enlightening thematic educational campaign for implementation in kindergartens, schools, universities and other educational institutions;
  • to reorganize the educational space and make it accessible, take away existing architectural barriers and not build new ones;
  • to conduct necessary work to simplify procedures of the Psychological-Medical and Pedagogical Commission (PMPC);

to educators:

  • to organize educational meetings and workshops for pupils of schools, which would cover the issues of values, equity, how to build a friendly relationship with children with special needs;
  • to introduce enlightening work among the parents;
  • to use the latest techniques in teaching process of children with special needs;

to clergy:

  • to disseminate information about children with special needs, to talk about the dignity of every life;
  • to spread successful experience of an action to the eastern regions;
  • to organize centers for parents (mothers and fathers) who have children with special needs;
  • to unite efforts and share the experience with other denominations for the ecumenical goal;

to parents:

  • to unite in communities to support one another and act together;
  • to understand the challenges faced by the educators and help them to change themselves and to change the education system;
  • to intensify the volunteer movement in their own centers;

to the media:

  • to create in its materials an image of a dignified person, whatever he or she may be, to be guided by respect, and not pity;
  • comprehensively and fairly cover the implementation and realization of educational reforms for children with special needs;
  • to spread in society an opinion about the need of inclusive classes in the largest possible number of city schools;
  • to create an information campaign on the educational successes of teachers, rehabilitators, parents of children who have special needs and are studying;
  • decently cover the work and the position of a "special" teacher.

There are also requests concerning all people. First of all, it is commonly recognized terminology that is sometimes humiliating or insults human’s dignity. It is not appropriate to say "sick" children, handicapped, disabled.

Oksana Vyniarska addressed all participants of the round table with the statement that inclusion must be wise. It should be useful for everyone: children, parents, teachers and maximally open the potential of the child and develop it. So on the way to the goal it is worth remembering why exists inclusion.

All children are valuable and have the right for education, and children with special needs also have a special mission – to create around themselves more humane and loving society.

With regards,

Round table participants and Organizing Committee of the ESW