Obstacles and barriers for inclusive education in Lithuania.

Observations made of both project partners:

Lithuanian Forum for the Disabled

Lithuanian Association of Adult Education

In this study we would observe two views.  The first view is made from adults with disabilities point and another one – non-formal adult education providers.

View of persons with disabilities

With the purpose to clarify the persons of disabilities view we launched a survey “Does non-formal adult education is accessible for persons with disabilities”.

The survey was launched on February, 2016 by the electronic form. It was send to all Lithuanian Forum for the Disabled contacts, i.e to other DPOs, individuals – persons with disabilities. The survey was consisted of four closed and one opened question.

The aim of survey was to clarify, how adult persons with disabilities are involved in non-formal education curricula and identify the obstacles and barriers in participation in inclusive education of adults with disabilities.

46 responses were collected. The most responses came from adults with mobility disability – 24 persons (53.3%). Persons with disability caused by medical conditions - 41.5% (17 persons), persons with hearing impairments – 8,9 % ( 4 persons), persons with mental impairments - 8,9 % ( 4 persons), person with visual impairments – 6,7% (3 persons), Persons with intellectual disabilities – 4,4% (2 persons), other - 6,7% (3 persons).

Only 13 respondents answered that have participated in non-formal education within last three years.

For example: photography, music lessons, jewelry making and other.

Maybe people do not understand meaning non-formal education.

Persons were asked if those non-formal education was implemented together with non-disabled persons or only for persons with disabilities. We receive 32 responses. 62,5% asked, that it was education together with all. Most of those (15) are affected with disability caused by medical conditions. So we can think, that persons with this kind of disability have less problems to receive inclusive non-formal education.

Also people were asked about possibility to choose inclusive or special education. The most (56,8 %) of respondents answered, that they would prefer inclusive education.

The open question was about their position: “what do you think, what is the main obstacle and barrier to reach inclusive non-formal education for persons with disabilities?

There we could determine three most popular answers:

  1. Inaccessible environment. Not only buildings. Inaccessible public transport, infrastructure and inaccessible information as well as lack of information are the main obstacles and barriers to inclusive non-formal education;
  2. The fear and lack of knowledge of professionals, educators and teachers how to work with persons with disabilities;
  3. Stigma and fear to communicate with differently looking persons is still alive in the society. In this conditions persons with disabilities are facing with self-discrimination and fear to participate in society.

Example of answer: “scope of other people to person with disability. It makes impression that they are afraid to be infected of disability“.

According to the same persons with disabilities opinion regarding the training, the most helpful thing for integration/reintegration into society, it is that training would take place not in a closed environment, dedicated only to disabled persons needs, but in open for every person accessible and usable space, even if the training are organized separately for persons with disabilities or in the mixed groups. Of course it is considered that it would be ideal if the learning group are mixed.

View of educators

The survey was launched on February, 2016. Direct e-mails with the asking to answer was sent to six respondent – LAAE members, who provide non-formal education for adults. There were five open questions. We receive very detailed answers to them from all educators.

  1. Have you ever organized non-formal education for persons with disabilities? If yes – which kind of education.

five respondents have organized and are organizing non-formal education for persons with disabilities. There were a lot of various activities: foreign and national language lessons, carrier planning, IT skills, massage, folk dances, folk music, etc.

2.              If those education was for all people or specifically for persons with disabilities?

Two respondents answered that organized both kind of education for persons with disabilities only for persons with disabilities and together with people without disability. Other four organized special education only for persons with disabilities.

It is notable, that the most courses were implemented as project’s activities by funding of one or another funds (grants)

3.              What obstacles did you face in organizing:
a) training only for people with disabilities?
b) training for mixed groups?

The a) answers were mainly about:

lack of social skills of persons with disabilities – educators must pay additional attention to communication with them;

for many persons with disabilities are difficult to concentrate for longer time – educators must change curricula and made more breaks, explain material in more easy way;

Material should be made to reflect of the needs of persons with disabilities (for example, blind, deaf, intellectual disabilities). It takes much more time and costs more for educators;

Physical accessibility of buildings where training are going; Usually buildings are inaccessible and educators must invest to accessibility or think about alternative ways for education providing;

With the b) answers educators marked that they faced with obstacles very seldom with the exceptions mentioned above, some educators marked the positive attitude to persons with disabilities.

4.              What the solutions to overcome the obstacles you have come up with or would suggest?

Soros International House Daiva, Malinauskienė, headmaster

Adaptation of training programs to meet the needs of the target group; development of special competences, such as knowledge in psychology, proficiency in organising and managing of class occupation, etc., when working with people with disabilities or mixed groups.

Siauliai labor market training center, Giedrė Martinaitienė, head of dicvisions of Proffesional rehabilitation: For qualitative work in a class-room rules play the key role. Setting and regular reminder of the rules allows to manage the balance between needs, frustration and emotions. Another helpful thing is call the pupil by name – this provides the feeling of importance to the person. Working in groups it is recommended to contact each person in the group checking whether the task is clear, correctly understood and how is the implementation going. Organising the meetings it is helpful to provide reminders to the clients saying what is the purpose of the meeting, when and where the meeting is going to be held. Already completed tasks I give to the clients – this helps them to memorize the provided information and recall it when needed. Presenting the theme I use examples and visual material. Developing the self-confidence I encourage the clients to praise themselves for the well-done job.

Panevezys Adults Training Center, Mindaugas Libikas, headmaster):

The community of the Centre is united providing the support to the pupils with disabilities – specialists meet the pupils, see them out, and provides all the necessary information. During the gaps in the curriculum or spare time pupils can stay in the library where workers attentively assist. The most important things are attention, understanding and timely support.

Health care and pharmaceutical specialists Competence Center, Saulius

Petrauskas, lecturer: There are available decisions: equipment can be lend from the Library of the Blind, material can be prepared in cooperation with typhlo-pedagogues, posters or other means can be applied, or the teacher can simply speak more comprehensively about the objects of investigation.

Vilnius Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Adults Training Center (Inga

Jagelavičiūtė, headmaster): Organising training for people movement disabilities we tried to overcome the obstacles or at least accommodate them: we reconstructed the entrance into the building, classes and exams are held on the ground floor. Other buildings are not accommodated and clients in wheel-chairs are carried-in. Great part of the studies for pupils with disabilities is going on via internet.

Rumšiškės Museum Manor Academy, Gita Šapranauskaitė, headmaster:

Entrances of the museum are equipped with the mobile ramps, premises are equipped with the furniture accommodated for people having mobility impairments. In the situations when androgogues lack the special knowledge and skills cooperation with social partners and NGOs of the disabled is very helpful.