Specific goal 1
Better access for persons with disabilities to services and inclusion in community by: improving the capacity of local authorities and the civil sector to collaboratively provide data on the situation of persons with disabilities and their families; strengthening local institutions (schools, social work centers and employment centers) to provide inclusive access to educational and other services in the community; and empowering civil society organizations that advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities to participate in local decision-making processes.
Establishing local community-led partnerships in six municipalities
During September 2018, the project team signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the mayors of the 6 project municipalities (Municipality of Tetovo, Municipality of Gostivar, Municipality of Karposh, Municipality of Kumanovo, Municipality of Strumica and Municipality of Veles) and with the principals of the project primary and secondary schools.
Building capacities of CSOs and local authorities in 6 municipalities for joint action planning, data collection and monitoring and evaluation
In December 2018, a three-day workshop was organized for representatives of local government units and CSOs. They had an opportunity to participate in the training for joint creation of a more inclusive community and joint planning of activities for improvement of the quality of life of persons with disabilities in the municipality. The workshop was delivered by the trainers Vaska Draskovic and Milica Trpevska, who presented/ discussed ways to help DPOs’ and the municipalities’ representatives to collect/access data, evaluate conditions and jointly plan activities that would enhance inclusion in the community and to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities. The topics of the workshop were: values, attitudes, stereotypes and prejudices; data collection and access; accessibility; inclusive health services; inclusive social services and the labour market; inclusive education; inclusivity entertainment, recreation and media and inclusive partnership with the civil society - inclusive local governance.
Creating a responsive and conducive school environment in 12 primary schools through building inclusive learning communities and raising awareness on the right to non-segregated education of students with disabilities (SwDs)
In the period from November 2018 to May 2019, a cycle of three trainings was organized for the members of the school inclusion teams (comprising pedagogue, psychologist, special educator, and teachers), in the primary schools which are project partners. The workshops were also attended by the representatives of the secondary schools, DPOs and municipalities. The topics of the workshops were:
- “Introduction to the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) and an individualized approach to teaching according the learning difficulties”,
- “Differentiation of learning and teaching”, and
- “Differentiated learning and assessment of Students with Disabilities (SwDs) following their Individual Education Plans”.
The trainings were delivered by Prim. D-r. Meri Boskovska, D-r. Angelka Keskinova and the special educator and rehabilitator Emilija Mijalova. The topics addressed the following themes: getting familiarized with the ICF, the difference between the medical and social model in the treatment of disability in the educational system, overcoming barriers to inclusive education in the country, planning educational work in an inclusive classroom, differentiation of learning and teaching, developing an individual education plan, the role of the inclusive team in supporting students with disabilities and their families, and ways to monitor and evaluate what students with disabilities have learned.
During the workshops, some of the disabilities that often occur in children who are enrolled in the regular schools were presented, as well as the tools, techniques, and specific ways needed to tailor the learning process so that those students can reach their full potential.
Developing an innovative “Disability-friendly Municipality Model”
The Disability-friendly Municipality Model contains self-assessment instruments developed to help municipalities and other local institutions, groups and concerned individuals to measure their community's inclusiveness in the following areas of interest:
- Data access - a prerequisite for inclusive policies and services;
- Accessible Communities - breaking down barriers to inclusion (public spaces, services, buildings, housing, transportation, information, communication);
- Inclusive education - encouraging children and young people to learn and develop;
- Inclusive labour market and inclusive social services - paving the way to an equal society;
- Inclusive health services - Healthy population for a healthy municipality;
- Inclusive recreation, sports, culture, entertainment and media - contributing to the social cohesion;
- Inclusive processes and inclusive policies - improving transparency, accountability and citizen participation.
The instruments in each of these areas are composed of thematic self-assessment lists, which will enable local authorities to identify their successful practices and identify areas in which improvement interventions are needed. In addition to the instrument intended for local governments, as part of this document is also given an instrument related to state policies and initiatives, which although is not under the direct competence of local government, has a major impact on local policies and practices, the operation of institutions and the availability of information and financial resources.
Along with the Disability-friendly Municipal Model, self-assessment lists are a powerful tool designed to facilitate the process of changes within the municipality with the ultimate goal of making it more accessible and inclusive for all.
The "Inclusive Municipality Model" document can be found here.
Initiating networking between schools, CSOs and local authorities through provision of small grants for implementing local inclusive activities
Part of the planned project activities in the Project "Community-Led Inclusive Partnerships" was the awarding of grants to implement the ideas developed in partnerships between DPOs and project municipalities. Representatives of municipalities and DPOs jointly identified the local inclusive activities and made a plan for the implementation of the necessary activities. As part of the project, seven grants were awarded for the following local inclusive needs:
Municipality of Karposh: A sensor room is fully equipped in the primary school "Vera Ciriviri - Trena" with didactic materials and equipment as well as numerous books and literature appropriate for working with students with disabilities;
Municipality of Tetovo: Sports activities for students with disabilities have been realized and sports equipment has been procured for the project schools;
Municipality of Veles: Didactic materials were procured for successful realization of inclusive education in the municipal primary schools and the kindergarten "Dimce Mirchev”;
Municipality of Gostivar: A school toilet has been adapted in OSTU “Gostivar” to make it accessible for students with physical disabilities and students with limited mobility.
Municipality of Kumanovo: A children's playground with specific appliances that can be used by children with and without disabilities has been built;
Municipality of Strumica: Educational and didactic materials have been procured for successful realization of inclusive education in the municipal primary and secondary schools.
Disseminating good local inclusive practices to other municipalities and on national level
During November and December 2019 six regional events were organized to share the positive experiences from the project activities implemented in the partner municipalities. At the event, the experiences gained through the process of capacity building of local DPOs and their inclusive activities, carried out in co-operation with local schools and municipal authorities, were shared. The events were followed by representatives of central and local government, primary and secondary schools, employment centres and DPOs. At the regional meetings the "Disability-friendly Municipal Model" was presented, which can be seen here.
These regional events were a good opportunity to encourage discussion for improvement of the cooperation between municipalities, schools, civil society and other stakeholders in regards to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, strengthening the capacity of all stakeholders to jointly plan and implement local inclusive activities, as well as, to implement activities that can improve access for people with disabilities to certain services and to encourage other local and government institutions to get involved in developing local inclusive action plans, in order to provide a holistic approach in addressing the issue of inclusion and to enable a real revival of the "Disability-friendly Municipal Model".
In addition to these events, a constructive consultation was held with employers and other stakeholders about improving the employment prospects of people with disabilities. At the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the Chambers of Commerce, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, the EU Delegation, civil sector, higher education and other experts and trainers, the Disability-friendly Municipal Model and the collaborative process of its creation was presented, but also, the results of project activities aimed at education of youth with disabilities for employability and capacity building of the career counselling institutions were elaborated. During the panel afterwards, the obstacles and difficulties faced by the persons with disabilities in their efforts to integrate into the labour market were discussed.