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Inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities in kindergartens: How well-trained is ECEC staff?

A new transnational report, published by KMOP Skopje, examines the knowledge, skill gaps, as well as training needs of ECEC staff regarding practices for ensuring inclusive ECEC of children with intellectual disabilities, in Poland, Belgium, Greece, Cyprus, and North Macedonia.


The report titled ‘Mapping the Terrain: Initial and continuous training opportunities for early childhood education and care staff’, which was published as part of the Erasmus+ project EMBRACE – Fostering inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities in early childhood education and care”, offers in-depth insights into the state of play in these countries regarding the opportunities for initial and continued education of ECEC staff on topics concerning inclusive ECEC of children with intellectual disabilities, the knowledge and skills gaps, and needs, as well as policy recommendations.


The findings of the field research demonstrated that the majority of the interviewed ECEC professionals across these five countries have completed an initial education or training programme that adequately papered them to work with young children, while the professionals’ experience with participation in continuous education or training programme varied.


However, there were notable differences between the countries on the extent to which the following topics have been included in the participants’ education and training: different forms of intellectual disabilities; the implication of the different forms of intellectual disabilities on the learning capacities of children; the overall philosophy and underlying values of inclusive early years education and the approaches for ensuring children with intellectual disabilities can participate in ECEC.


In Greece, for example, more than half of the interviewees had followed continuous training in special education, while none of the interviewees in N. Macedonia had done so. In Belgium, the interviewees elaborated that initial and continuous training focus more on the general values of inclusion, while the specific characteristics and needs linked with intellectual disabilities are not clearly mainstreamed. This is partly due to a vision where disability is seen as one of the many possible diversities of the children.


Similarly, in Cyprus, most of the participants shared these aspects related to inclusive education that have been covered within their initial education (bachelor’s degrees), but with no specific emphasis on intellectual disabilities. In Poland, participants explained that even though inclusive education and intellectual disabilities-related issues have been included in their formal education, their practical experience in applying the specific methods in working with children has been crucial in their learning path.


You can find the report HERE.


The project EMBRACE aims to contribute to the enhancement of the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC) and promote the inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities. The project is funded under the Erasmus+ Programme, and it is implemented in five countries in cooperation with six partners: Bielskie Stowarzyszenie Artystyczne Teatr Grodzki  (Poland), A & A Emphasys Interactive Solutions Ltd (Cyprus), KMOP – Social Action & Innovation Centre (Greece), Regional Directorate for Primary and Secondary Education of Attica (Greece), Family and Childcare Center – branch in Skopje  (N. Macedonia) and the European Association of Service Providers for Persons with Disabilities  (Belgium).


For more information about the project, please visit or contact KMOP at [email protected].

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