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Press Centre (9/2017)

Creating a fair chance for children with disabilities through inclusive education


The Ministry of National Education, the European Union and UNICEF today launched the Inclusive Early Childhood Education for Children with Disabilities Project


Ankara, 21 September 2017 – More than 150 participants gathered today at the launch of a strategic initiative to provide children with and without disabilities a chance to develop, learn and thrive together, both in the classroom and in their communities.
 
The project aims to increase the number of children with disabilities enrolled in early childhood education over the next three years. By using evidence-based data the project will increase the awareness of families, caregivers, decision makers and community leaders about inclusive education rights, opportunities, and the importance of school-family collaboration. The project will equip teachers, administrators and other education personnel with the essential knowledge and skills to foster inclusive education environments. 
 
Like all children, children with disabilities need quality education to develop their skills and realize their dreams, and they have much to contribute to society. Providing them with inclusive education at an early age is key to unlocking their potential. 
 
This project will be implemented through a close partnership between the Ministry of National Education and UNICEF, and with the financial support of the European Union.
 
Dr Muammer Yıldız, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of National Education, stated that: “In schools that inclusive education is implemented each students’ contribution is unique and in those classrooms values are diversified. In this type of supportive educational environment in which the principles of inclusive education are adopted, each child feels safe and develops a sense of belonging to the school community. In this respect, all of our students and their parents can play a meaningful role in their learning, setting educational goals and making needs-based decisions. This is an important step for our national welfare and the development of our civilization.
 
Mr. Philippe Duamelle, UNICEF Representative in Turkey, declared that, “This project reflects our joint commitment to increase access to education for all children in Turkey, boys and girls, with and without disabilities. To achieve this, we need to lift the veil of invisibility over children with disabilities and give them all available opportunities to succeed and thrive in school and in their communities. It is important for us all to remember that by investing in our children’s education, we are investing not only in their future-but in our own future, too.” Mr. Duamelle thanked the European Union for its financial support and the Government of Turkey for its efforts to increase access to early childhood education for all children".
 
Ambassador Christian Berger, Head of EU Delegation to Turkey said on the occasion "We are glad to be co-financing this project with the Turkish authorities, because investing in pre-school education and care has high returns in terms of social adaptation of children. Expanding such services to the disadvantaged members of the society helps us to tackle social and economic inequalities that our societies face. Education, employment and social inclusion policies will remain priorities for the EU assistance to Turkey".  
 
The launch will be followed by a two-day national conference providing a platform for engagement of leading academics and experts in the fields of disability, early childhood, special and inclusive education.
 
Background
The Project will be implemented for a period of 3 years in 6 pilot provinces including Antalya, Bursa, Konya, İzmir, Gaziantep and Samsun. These provinces were selected as those with the highest rates of students between the ages of 3-7 who receive integrated education. 90 school communities will participate in the project to improve the cognitive, emotional and social development of all children participating in inclusive education.
 
The Project is expected to be a catalyst for positive societal attitudinal change regarding the inclusion of children with disabilities into early childhood education in Turkey.
 
Delegation of the European Union to Turkey
Ever since Turkey was declared an accession candidate by the European Council in December 1999, the relationship between Ankara and Brussels has constantly been developing. The Delegation of the European Union to Turkey seeks to meet the needs that rise from the intense and multidimensional ties, with over 190 Turkish and European Union experts working together to carry out this mission.

For more information about Delegation of the European Union to Turkey visit:  www.avrupa.info.tr
 
About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 
 
For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org  www.unicef.org.tr
 
For press inquiries:
UNICEF: 
Sema Hosta: Chief of Communication, +90 312 454 10 10, shosta@unicef.org

EU Delegation in Turkey:
Miray Akdağ Uluç - Press Officer for the Delegation of the European Union in Turkey
M +90 532 624 93 56 / T +90 312 459 88 77
 
 
 
UNICEF Turkey Country Office, Yukarı Dikmen Mah. Alexsander Dubçek Cd. 7/106, 06450 Çankaya/Ankara. Telephone: +90 312 454 1000 Fax: +90 312 496 1461 E-mail: ankara@unicef.org