ERG SES B 05, Parallel Session B 05
The quality of education of children with multiple disabilities in Greece has not been methodically examined and previous researches have provided mostly numerical data concerning this specific student population. This research aims to explore the parental experiences and perceptions concerning the function of special education settings in Athens-Greece with emphasis on the opportunities provided to children with multiple disabilities and the obstacles presented for both the family and the child during this educational course. The main research question sets out to present the parental views and experiences concerning the educational course of their children with multiple disabilities within the Greek educational system, more specifically: in which way does the placement in the educational system shape opportunities for learning and social progress, which are the obstacles faced and the solutions provided and what is the role of parents in this procedure?
The importance of evaluating the views and experiences of the parents concerning the educational and social inclusion of their children has emerged (Brett, 2002). Families of children with multiple disabilities hold an important role in their children’s lives, both in terms of care and nurture but also because this specific group of children has explicit needs concerning issues of representation and advocacy.
The right of all students to have access in education and their capability to learn and progress, no matter the degree of abilities or disabilities, has led to optimistic changes concerning the education of children with multiple disabilities (Ware: 1989). In 2006 the United States Convention about the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognizes the right to compulsory and free education for all disabled children and proposes specific reforms and measures. At the same time Greece, in official agreement with the principles of the UNESCO convention, struggles to include all children within the educational system and meet their educational needs. According to the records provided by the Ministry of Education in 2005, 705 students with multiple disabilities attend mainly special elementary education settings and remain excluded from general education structures.
Children with multiple disabilities are the ones more likely to be excluded due to the growing emphasis on school achievements. Though governments are trying to promote the idea of inclusion for children with multiple disabilities in the mainstream classrooms the foundations are not solid and the dilemma concerning the inclusion or not of the students is greater than that of any other educational need matter (Aird, 2001: 7-11). Children with multiple disabilities are most commonly placed in special schools. The extent to which special settings are appropriate is rarely examined, even though the reason of this placement is based on the belief that mainstream settings are ‘off limits’ because children with multiple disabilities operate at early developmental stages and the lessons of the general education will be too advanced for them (Simmons and Bayliss 2007: 19).
Aird, R. (2001) The Education and care of children with severe, profound and multiple difficulties. London: David Fulton Publishers Brett, J. (2002) ‘The experience of disability from the perspective of parents of children with profound impairment: is it time for an alternative model of disability?’ Disability and Society. 17 (7), 825-843. Ministry of Education. (2005) Collective Data of Educationalists-Students in Special Schools, Athens: Ministry of Education. Simmons, B. & Bayliss, P. (2007) ‘The role of special schools for children with profound and multiple learning difficulties: is segregation always best?’, British Journal of Special Education. 34 (1), 19-24. United Nations (2006) United Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities. (www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?navid=13&pid=150). Ware, J. (1989) ‘The fish report and pupils with severe learning difficulties’, in N. Jones (ed.) Special Educational Needs Review. London: Falmer, 115-126.
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