New platform helping students with special educational needs to integrate in mass schooling

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The FDP – Protagonists in Education Association, together with the Center for Educational Resources and Support of Bucharest (CMBRAE) launches www.eduacces.ro, a public, free platform which helps teachers working with children who have special educational needs (SEN) adapt learning to their specific needs. The project is financed by the Vodafone Romania Foundation with a budget of RON 240,000, through the strategic program “Connecting for Good”, and was developed by FDP – Protagonists in Education Association, with the support of Code for Romania, within the Civic Labs program.

The platform provides users with a collection of educational resources, facilitates the exchange of experience and sharing content between members and offers the possibility to receive advice from specialists. Thus, in the ‘Resources’ section of the platform, users have access to a variety of teaching materials and can filter them by diagnosis or by learning level. In the ‘Useful links’ section, games and non-formal activities are available, which specialists can use in adapting working methods. Furthermore, any professional who identified, adapted or tested effective solutions in interacting with a child with SEN which can serve the whole community, can create an account and upload an unlimited number of documents, one of the project objectives being the continuous expansion of this online learning center in which the exchange of experience is encouraged, establishing a connection between specialists being an important aspect of generating real change, expected at national level.

Last but not least, in the ‘Talk to a specialist’ section of the platform, users, parents and teachers can ask questions concerning their activities with children and receive advice regarding the challenges they face in class. The answers are provided by e-mail, within 48 hours, by psychologists, psycho-pedagogues and other types of specialists (educational counsellors, specialized teachers, therapists), volunteers or employees of FDP – Protagonists in Education Association and CMBRAE. The platform is also available in Hungarian, German and English, thus meeting the needs of a greater number of beneficiaries.

‘In the current context in which we radically changed our lifestyle, the way we interact with others and implicitly, our way of doing things, many of our efforts have focused on finding solutions that would allow students and teachers to continue their activity. Children with special educational needs require special attention in this context and we hope that technology can help keep them included in mass education’, declared Angela Galeța, Manager of Vodafone Romania Foundation.

‘When we become acquainted with technology, we notice that it can bring us many benefits. Especially, technology becomes very valuable when used to support teachers working with children with learning disabilities. They need to develop harmoniously in an environment where their skills are recognized and appreciated. In a flexible manner, used skillfully by professionals in the field, the educational resources on the platform we are launching will become more appealing due to them being adapted to the necessities of children with special educational needs’, declared Simona Carobene, Managing director of FDP-Protagonists in Education Association.

In Romania, there are approximately 33,000 children with SEN, potential beneficiaries of the eduacces.ro platform. Over 2,000 of these children are located in Bucharest. Specialists in the field estimate though that the actual figure might be twice as high, considering that not all children are correctly diagnosed and that some parents avoid asking for a complex evaluation of their children. At the same time, the educational system, public or private, is not ready to ensure equal access to education for all children, because the number of school counsellors and speech therapists in schools is too low, which reduces the time and attention allocated to each child, and because many teachers do not feel well-prepared in regard to the school and social inclusion of SEN children. For this reason, the provision of adapted educational resources to teachers and specialists represents an extra help in the effort to include children with special educational needs.

The objective for the first 3 months of functioning of eduacces.ro is to attract 1,500 experts to create an account on the platform: teachers, school counsellors, speech therapists, supporting teachers, psycho-pedagogues and other specialists who provide educational services for children with SEN in preschool, primary and secondary education, in both public and private establishments in Romania, in urban as well as rural areas.

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