Correctional schools will become regular: will the education system change for children with disabilities?
From 1 September, indications of pupils’ additional needs will disappear from the names of correctional and special schools, the Minister of Education, Olga Vasileva, announced at the All-Russian Parents’ Meeting on 30 August.
The decision was taken by the department in connection with the development of inclusive education in the country. Legally, however, the word ‘correctional’ will not disappear from the schools’ statutes, and in that way they will maintain their benefits, Olga Vasileva added.
However, in the opinion of experts, changing the names suggests change to the structure of the educational system and greater prospects for people with disabilities.
“In the given case, it is currently hard to say what will change. At the moment, only the name is changing,” Maria Perfilieva, Director of the Department for Inclusive Education at the Regional Society for Disabled People Perspektiva, commented in an interview with an ASI correspondent. “Perhaps, this is not so bad, because we will have schools where all children will be taught. On the outside, you can take away what you want and put any name on it, but what happens inside is currently unknown. ‘Correctional school graduate’ or simply ‘school graduate’ sound very different. For instance, in Finland, girls and boys with impairments are considered graduates of regular schools, but they have special grades on their certificate. And employers and subsequent teachers already know about their particularities. Maybe we too will have the same. But at the moment, it is a name change. For now, apparently, there will simply be general educational schools.”
According to the website of the Ministry of Education and Science, 11,000 schools took 476 children with additional health needs this year, where children with and without disabilities study together. At the same time, not one correctional school in 2016, nor any so far this year, has been closed. There are currently 1764 such educational institutions in the country.
The Ministry of Education and Science together with the Ministry for Industry and Trade have managed to implement a project to guarantee correctional schools modern medical facilities to examine children’s health. 360 schools have already received equipment, and it is planned to equip all correctional educational organisations over the course of the next three years.
One further question that is worrying parents is the return to medical offices in schools and the provision of information about children’s health.
“I am convinced that the school should know about a child’s health needs. Data protection is a great thing, but this is about health. Information about it should be in schools, it is possible that it will need to be declared”, the press service of the Ministry of Education cites Olga Vasileva as saying.