To educate collectively in one classroom physically and mentally disabled children, those who are gifted, the children of different ethnicities, migrants, children from mainstream society, or from disadvantaged localities; to create for them an open school environment which will be welcoming and will respect the needs of every student – this is inclusion, or the process of unified education.
For a few years already, J.E. Purkyně University, in Ústí nad Labem, has already been at the forefront in the initiation of various projects associated with inclusion.
For example, in 2008, Mgr. Jitka Kratochvílová and Mgr. Hana Pejčochová, Ph.D., realized that a social conscience must be a foundational part of the character of a good teacher.
The Streetart Festival, Integra Jam, is literally breaking down interpersonal boundaries. The continual increase in the number of visitors is a witness to the favorable impact of these activities, not only on the personal development of integrated children and adults, but also especially on the interests of the public in being tolerant and open partners towards all people.
Therefore, they created the project, Creative Art as a Means to the Integration of Mentally, Physically, Socially, and Otherwise Handicapped Groups into Society, which utilizes the potential of artistic and motor activities towards the social integration of children into society.
Its climax is the streetart festival, Integra Jam, which literally breaks down interpersonal boundaries. In the process of group work on artistically and physically creative activities, people who are socially, mentally, or in other ways handicapped are integrated into the society of the other visitors. Volunteers from the Faculty of Education, that is from the Department of Fine Arts and the Department of Physical Education and Sport, prepare a yearly site for these activities in the Municipal Park in Ústí. The continual increase in the number of visitors is a witness to the favorable impact of these activities, not only on the personal development of integrated children and adults, but also especially on the interests of the public in being tolerant and open partners towards all people.
The Way to Inclusion
Another university project is The Way to Inclusion of Mgr. Zdeňek Svoboda, Ph.D., and Mgr. Ladislav Zilcher. It is focused on the goal of deepening cooperation with schools, and not only methodologically, in order to support teachers in demanding joint educational situations.
The creators of this project have held more than forty conferences and workshops throughout the country. Nearly 1,100 school faculty members have participated and have had the opportunity to discuss the concept of inclusion in detail. Nearly 199 of these faculty members have also participated in internships in schools in the United Kingdom and in Finland. Methodological publications, research monographs, and other concrete materials have also been produced which schools can use to develop their own inclusive practices.
School for Everyone
The aforementioned project creators have continued their previous activities and are currently working on another project entitled School for Everyone. Its goal is to simplify the approach to inclusive teaching not only for teachers and students, but also for parents or school administrators. At the student level it primarily concerns the admission of classmates with poorer results and specific educational needs. Special assistants should play a large role in helping teachers cope with the differences between students. Cooperation is again planned with colleagues from the United Kingdom and Finland, and partners in this project are also Charles University in Prague, Masaryk University in Brno, and the organization People in Need.