The Erasmus+ project coordinated by Hidden Treasures Down Association was closed with outcomes which even surprised the teachers. They held joint classes for healthy children and ones with disabilities and special educational needs in Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. They wanted to transmit the positive message of inclusive education to as many primary schools as possible to allow all those concerned to experience the opportunities of teaching based on inclusive education. They have been recognised with an Erasmus+ Quality Award for the development and practical testing of a methodological material which they developed with support from the EU. We talked to coordinator Károly Kisari.
Children with Special Educational Needs Should Not Necessarily Take a Different Career Path
Institution: Hidden Treasures Down Association
Project title: The Class Bell Rings for Everyone - early childhood prevention and the integrated practical protocol of inclusive education for children with disabilities
Coordinator: Károly Kisari
What was the issue that motivated the implementation of your project?
In the countries involved in the project we can see very few “best practices” of early childhood intervention and inclusive education in everyday life, while a lot theoretical courses and infrastructural developments are implemented in the field. In both areas, it would be very important to involve the families and enhance interprofessional collaboration. That's because the educational, social and healthcare systems affected by the improvement of the situation are not, or not sufficiently connected, they don’t understand each other’s (specialised) language, their systems and controls are not harmonised, and therefore, in practice, they can't effectively help children with disabilities or special educational needs.
What outcomes were produced due to your Erasmus+ project?
Nearly 1,000 children with special educational needs were directly involved in the project, who could thus experience joint "work". After a well-conceived preliminary preparation, we took children with disabilities and special educational needs to the school groups at least 10 times during three months, where they attended joint workshops. At each school, the children closed the common work with a joint closing programme, where they gave stage performances together, and set up exhibitions of their works created during the three months’ work. We followed up on the internal processes that took place among the children and the teachers in an impact assessment, and we clearly measured positive results. We found that many of their former fears were dispelled; for example, the teachers reported that, as opposed to what they’d expected, working together with children with special educational needs didn't present such a great difficulty. Based on the experiences, an easy-to-understand methodological protocol was prepared in the project, which displays early childhood intervention and inclusive education together and mutually building on each other.
What challenges did you need to face during the project?
We were faced with a number of challenges, which, I think, are part of the implementation of such an innovative programme. It was human responses that presented the greatest challenge; we needed to consider well and plan how to prepare the programmes for a warm and open reception. The key to successful implementation was this very preparatory work, as we contacted and involved each participant in the process at the place and in a manner which was convenient to them – through preliminary arrangement, workshops, classroom discussions or inviting local politicians and policy-makers to project launching events. The actual meeting between children with special educational needs and those of typical development was only realised after long preparatory work, when both parties had been properly prepared for it.
Why do you think your achievements are special and innovative?
It’s a novelty that the intellectual products generated in the project are easy-to-understand and that we start preparing families and professionals for inclusive education at an early age. I think we've managed to prepare materials which were written in a common language for education, healthcare and the social profession, which provide useful professional contents and guidance, and are, at the same time, also easy to understand for families with children who have special educational needs. The common conceptual framework in the field of early childhood intervention and inclusive education in all the three partner countries is a great step ahead.
Which one or ones are you proudest of?
I'm proudest of our publication called ‘A Guide for Families Raising Atypically Developing Children'. It was an unplanned project outcome. During our work it became clear that there was a huge lack of publications which address the parents of children with disabilities in an easy-to-understand manner and at the time of learning about the diagnosis. It’s a life-changing moment in families, when it’s useful to find a practical, freely available and easy-to-understand material which gives them guidance on how to raise their children who have disabilities or special educational needs – whether they have visual impairment, dyslexia or food allergy – in an integrated manner, as similarly to a typically developing child as possible. It’s also important in everyday situations such as the kindergarten, the school or family events. Because these children shouldn’t necessarily take different a career path than their peers without a diagnosis.
How will you carry on the project outcomes? Are you, in any sense, going to continue the work you’ve begun?
The partner organisations have integrated the protocols we made into their processes and use their elements in their institutions on a daily basis. The guide for families has directly reached nearly 10,000 people in printed and online forms, and we are receiving positive feedback from each side. Throughout the project, we worked together with a lot of professional partners, who regularly ask us to present the protocol and the guide at the forums they organise. We are continuing the cooperation with our Slovakian and Romanian partners, for the funding of which we have submitted another Erasmus+ application. The integration of the project outcomes goes beyond the scope of this partnership, as during the past few years we managed to establish cooperation with the University of Nyíregyháza and the University of Debrecen, from which we regularly receive trainees. Also, we have opened the second development centre in Budapest, called Csodavár Budapest Early Development Centre and Indoor Playground, where the ELTE Bárczi Gusztáv Faculty of Special Needs Education sends trainees. We believe that, by relying on their own personal experiences, these students will be able to integrate what they’ve learnt here into their daily work.
The partners have developed a methodological protocol which fills the gap between early childhood intervention and inclusive education, and which had formerly been absent in the Central Eastern European region.
The “The Class Bell Rings for Everyone” project is suitable for the task of promoting the social inclusion of children with disabilities and special educational needs and enable them to reach their full potentials and live a full, productive life.
Tempus Public Foundation / Erasmus+ partnerships
Last modified: 16-04-2019