“Aft000er three years of work, we finally feel that we laid good foundations. When we look back to situation of from three years ago, how much we, as professionals, didn’t know about inclusion, we see how much progress has been made. Now we are in position to talk about inclusive education to professionals that are now in that same e situation we were three years ago,” stresses Elvira Ogrešević, Centre for Development of Inclusive practices Cazin Coordinator.
Una-Sana Canton (USC) has been the first part of Bosnia and Herzegovina to get centres for development of inclusive practices, one in Bihać and one in Cazin. After Save the Children supported USC government in development of the Strategy for inclusion of children with disabilities in USC and its 7-year Action Plan, these two centres were opened to provide multi-disciplinary and multi-sector support to children with disabilities, their families, and professional community in order to be better included in the mainstream education system.
The centres introduced an innovative approach to working with children with disabilities, based on social model of inclusion. They are fully accessible for people/ children with disabilities in line with universal design principles, possess valuable resources of equipment and didactics, and they employ multi-disciplinary teams of rehabilitation experts.
Following successful implementation of the project, Save the Children teamed with the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) and initiated implementation of similar project in Tuzla Canton. In 2018 Cantonal Assembly of Tuzla Canton adopted the Strategy for inclusion of children with disabilities in education in Tuzla Canton and its 7-year action plan, developed by the Ministry of Education and Science and supported by Save the Children. The Strategy provides comprehensive guidance on how to improve inclusive education by using many existing capacities in the communities and by endorsing contemporary inclusive education approaches, based on the social model of disability.
This project, Inclusive4All, provides direct support to the Tuzla Canton Government to start with the implementation of the Strategy. Two new centres for development in inclusive practices – one in Gradačac and another in Banovići – are now ready for open the door for children with disabilities, their parents and teacher. For their newly appointed team members, Save the Children organized a study visit to learn about their experiences and expertise.
“With this visit, we gained a lot. We got answers to many of our questions and concerns with regard to work of the centres, work of the professionals, from admission of children with disabilities to the centres to provision of services to them and their families. Things we saw here will help us in our future work,” says Enisa Lapandić, director of Primary school Banovići, where one of the centres is stationed.
Centres development of inclusive practices are set up on the basis of the expressed need to innovate and re-organise system support to children and youth with disabilities. Besides stationary rehabilitation services, these centres will provide mobile outreach team support to education institutions for implementation of quality inclusive education.Medira Čulum, advisor for the education sector in the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport of Tuzla Canton says the study visit was of great importance to employees of the centres in Banovići and Gradačac, as they will work on very similar tasks.
“We can’t say that we will replicate everything from USC because there are some differences in circumstances. We have some resources that USC don’t, and that is faculty that offers education for education and rehabilitation professionals, we have many associations working in the area and two special schools tah twill now go in transformation process. Therefore, we will repeat some of the things that we sow here, but also add some new steps.”
Professionals working in the centres in Banovići and Gradačac will participate in extensive capacity building program that aims to strengthen their team and expert work. They will be provided with an opportunity to be trained by some of the best experts in the region and to implement their new skills and knowledge with the provided mentorship support.
Elvira Ogrešević from Cazin’s centre says that education they received through the project helped them to expand their professional capacities in many areas.
“We have to develop our professional skills continuously. It took us two years to go through the process of specialisations and adjustment. We see it now as our task now to expand, to network with other organisations and institutions, to seek further education. Also, we have good cooperation with local and cantonal authorities, but we don’t rely only on their support, we initiate new projects on our own and look for funding opportunities.”
To see more of how the study visit went, watch video prepared by the Banovići Centre for Development of inclusive practices: https://www.facebook.com/112060236854567/videos/562649180945887/
Inclusive4All project also envisages strengthening the capacity of special schools in the Tuzla Canton for the transformation into modern support resources, as well as strengthening the advocacy initiatives of civil society organizations in the Tuzla Canton.
The project is funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. The project information contained in this text is the author's responsibility. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Development Cooperation Agency do not take responsibility for the opinions expressed in the text.