Source: President of Ukraine
President Petro Poroshenko thanked the large community of enthusiasts – volunteers who joined the work of the First Lady Maryna Poroshenko on inclusive education.
“Inclusion is not only for children with special needs. Inclusion is not only for their families, parents. Inclusion is for all of us, citizens of Ukraine, for our state. This shows whether the nation passes the exam for Europeanism. This is one of those reforms that change not a separate sector of the economy or public administration. This is part of the most important and I must say the most complicated, but at the same time the most necessary reform, because we are transforming and changing the Ukrainian society itself,” Petro Poroshenko said during the session of the All-Ukrainian Council on Inclusive Education.
The President stresses that the beginning of those changes took place during the Revolution of Dignity: “And one of the characteristics of dignity is the attitude towards people with special needs”.
The Head of State remarked that Ukraine was on its way to protect the Ukrainian state through integration with the EU and NATO. “This way is not easy, but we have chosen it consciously, it is determined by our history. And I emphasize that nobody and nothing, including the aggressor country, will force us to retreat from it. We will not ask anyone for the permission to follow this path except for the Ukrainian people,” the President emphasized.
The Head of State noted that Ukraine had managed to achieve many results on this path, and the main recipe for victories is unity, “when we are united, nothing is impossible for us”.
“The unity of Ukraine has many dimensions. But it is certainly impossible without a very simple thing – the unity of children in the school class. Unless there is unity there, it is very difficult to build unity of society and state. Unity is impossible without the support of teachers, without the support of teachers’ assistants of children with special needs and their parents. It will not happen without solidarity of communities, because the topic of inclusive education and the topic of treatment of children with special needs is a priority in the activities of local self-government bodies,” Petro Poroshenko said.
“These children need support, they need an accessible environment in kindergartens, schools, on the streets, in transport, everywhere. Inclusiveness is an important indicator of how society, each of us perceives the “difference” … This system frightens those who are weak, they try to avoid the problem and the ways of its solution. Even not to avoid, but to turn the eyes away … As for the strong ones, it makes them accept the challenge, makes them understand, act and help,” the Head of State emphasized. The President said that for the first time he had seen the model for people with special needs in the walls of the Ukrainian Catholic University.
“Ukrainians are an exceptionally strong people. Our attitude and implementation of inclusive education demonstrate our power… Our readiness to create opportunities for all testifies to our strength and our unity, multiplies and leads to victories,” Petro Poroshenko emphasized.
The President stressed that Ukrainians were proud of the army, which was revived in record time. “But isn’t it a reason to be proud that we have created an absolutely unique network of inclusive-resource centers (IRCs) in a year?” Petro Poroshenko emphasized. He added that changes in the country take place despite Russian aggression, despite the elements of the hybrid war, including the economic blockade.
According to the President, the budget provides enough resources for the creation and proper equipment of almost 700 IRCs, which must fully satisfy the need for such institutions. “There is an adaptation of the educational process to meet the needs of each student. Parents have to simply bring a child to the educational institution closest to their place of residence and choose the form of education that suits the interests of the child the best. Budget funds are also provided for that,” Petro Poroshenko said.
The President also noted the active work of local communities in this process and thanked for this: “The decentralization initiated by me and supported by the Government … provides tremendous opportunities for the regulation of life in your territories, and we see many examples of responsible attitude to the measures on inclusiveness – from the construction and reconstruction of the school space to the mandatory equipment of resource rooms and media libraries”.
The Head of State stressed that due to the joint coordinated efforts, the number of children entering inclusive classes and groups doubles annually. “This means that we are building a truly new Ukrainian school, where the educational process will be varied, adapted to the needs of each individual child. It means that we are going the European way,” he said.