The CONSIDER partnership conducted a study to explore the embeddedness of inclusion principles in strategic documents and everyday operation of adult education institutions. This article provides the summary of findings from Germany.
Any theory or research paper needs an evidence base; in case of training materials, the developer has to make sure these address the actual needs of the target group. Therefore, before getting down to the development of the products planned in the CONSIDER project, the partners undertook a task to explore the embeddedness of inclusion principles in legislation and other strategic documents, and to conduct a survey of adult learning providers (at the level of managerial and training staff) to get first-hand information about actual inclusion practices used. The research work was conducted in France, Greece, Slovakia, Germany, Italy and Portugal. Below you will find a summary of findings from Germany. In 2009, Germany ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It laid the groundwork for significant normative and structural changes in the education system, specifically – transition from integration to inclusion. The regulations of the convention are further stipulated in national strategic documents and policies, such as the Federal Act on Participation (Bundesteilhabegesetz) and National Action Plan 2.0 for People with Disabilities (Nationale Aktionsplan 2.0 für Menschen mit Behinderung) that read that people with disabilities should have an equal right to participate in all spheres of life, including education. Additionally, measures for specific target groups are taken – for example, National Decade for Literacy and Basic skills (2016-2026) aimed to raise basic education levels among adults. Many scholars note, however, that the inclusion practices in the sphere of adult education are not so well regulated – in other words, there is no single document that would prescribe or instruct adult learning providers how they should address the matter of inclusion practically. As a result, the embeddedness of inclusion principles in everyday operation may differ greatly from institution to institution. This statement is corroborated by the results of the research conducted by the German partner, Volkshochschule im Landkreis Cham e.V. To collect the data, 5 managers and 5 trainers of adult education institutions were surveyed. The results show that only few of the surveyed institutions have special regulations addressing the topic of inclusion specifically. According to the respondents, their institutions provide the physical environment ensuring the mobility of people with special needs and generally strive to avoid discrimination on any grounds. The level of cooperation representing the interests of vulnerable groups is also quite high. However, most of them do not have specific policies on the topic of inclusion, and the staff is educated on the matters of inclusion only sporadically. Thus, the study conducted shows that to create a truly inclusive adult education institution, both administrative and training staff should be further sensitized towards the topic and equipped with the relevant methodological tools.
Article by Volkshochschule im Landkreis Cham e. V.
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