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National Policy on
The Education of Persons with Disability

Maltese Version


A. PRESENT SITUATION

1. It is the right of every citizen of the Republic of Malta to receive education and instruction without any distinction of age, sex, belief or economic means as enacted by the Education Law (Act XXIV of 1988).

2. Parents have a right to choose the type of education to be given to their minors or their children who are unable to decide on their own behalf.

3. It is the duty of the State to ensure the existence of a system of schools and institutions accessible to all Maltese citizens catering for the full development of the whole personality including the ability of every person to work.

4. The choice for special education needed by any person is solely the parents', but te State has a duty to provide special schools to cater for their development.

5. The Education Department has established a Special Education Unit which at present provides the following sevices:

5.1. Counselling service regarding special provisions for children with disabilities;

5.2. Home service mainly geared towards children with disabilities, chronically sick children and hearing impaired children;

5.3. Special Schools which are:

5.3.1. Special School, Wardija - for children with mild learning disability;

5.3.2. ESN, Msida - for children with mild learning disability;

5.3.3. Guardian Angel School, Hamrun - for children with severe learning disability and a number of children with mild learning disability;

5.3.4. San Miguel School, St. Andrews - for children with severe learning and physical disabilities;

5.3.5. Hearing Impaired Unit, Pieta` - for children with a hearing impairment;

5.3.6. Mater Dei School, Msida - for boys with an emotional disability;

5.3.7. The Qrendi Centre for the visually impaired and children both with visual and hearing impairments.

5.4. Support services in regular schools which consist of either:

5.4.1. Peripatetic teachers mainly for students who are deaf or blind;

5.4.2. Kindergarten assistants to assist regular teachers who have a child with disability in their class.

5.5. Remedial services in the third year of the Primary schools for children with minimal literacy skills in the basic academic subjects.

5.6. St. Luke's Hospital Educational service which is an educational service to children who are hospitalized for a relatively long period of time which includes students with disabilities.

5.7. In Gozo there are:

5.7.1. Peripatetic service to the mainstreamed children with a hearing impairment;

5.7.2. A small centre at Sannat Primary school for children with physical and / or learning disabilities.

6. Statistically, the situation of the Special Education Sector in Malta can be represented through a series of charts shown annexed to this document. These charts represent the state of affairs some months ago. However, no significant changes have bees registered.


B. WORLD PROGRAMME OF ACTION CONCERNING DISABLED PERSONS

In the third chapter of this world program entitled "Proposals for the Implementation of the World Program of Action concerning Disabled Persons", the fourth section is dedicated to Equalization of Opportunities. Part "d" of the program is on Education and Training with the following pargraphs (numbers indicate sections of program):

120. Member States should adopt policies which recognize the rights of disabled persons to equal educational opportunities with others. The education of disabled persons should as far as possible take place in the general school system. Responsability for their education should be placed upon the educational authorities, and laws regarding compulsory education should include children with all ranged of disabilities,including the most serverely disabled.

121. Member States should allow for increased fexibility in the application to disabled persons of any regulation concerning admission age, promotion from class to class and, when appropriate, in examination procedures.

122. Basic criteria are to be met when developing educational services for disabled children and adults. These services should be:

(a) Individualized, i.e. based on the assessed needs mutually agreed upon by authorities, administrators, parents and disabled students and leading to clearly stated curriculum goals and short-term objectives which are regurlarly reviewed and where necessary revised;

(b) Locally accessible, i.e. within reasonable travelling distance of the pupil's home or residence except in special circumstances;

(c) Comprehensive, i.e. serving all persons with special needs irrespective of age of degree of disability, and such that no child of school age excluded from educational provision on grounds of severity of disability or receives educational services significantly inferior to those enjoyed by any students;

(d) Offering a range of choice commensurate with the range of special needs in any community.

123. Integration of disabled children into the general educational system required planning by all parties concerned.

124. If, for some reasons, the facilities of the general school system are inadequate for some disabled children, schooling for these children should then be provided for an appropriate period of time in special facilities. The quality of this special schooling should be equal to that of the general school system and closely linked to it.

125. The involvement of parents at all levels of the educational process is vital. Parents should be given the necessary support to provide as normal a family environment for disabled children as is possible. Personnel should be trained to work with the parents of disabled children.

126. Member States should provide for the participation of disabled persons in adult education programs, with special attention to rural areas.

127. If the facilities of regular adult education courses are inadequate to meet the needs of some disabled persons, special courses or training centres may be needed until the regular programs have been modified. Member States should grant disabled persons possibilities for education at university level.


C. OUR POLICIES FOR ALL EDUCATIONAL PROVISIONS

1. The right for education for all children irrespective of the degree of their disability has to be upheld by all and in our Country it is provided by law. It should be the responsability of the Ministry of Education to realize this right.

2. Chidren without disability have a right for an opportunity to be educated with children with disabilities.

3. Every child with a disability shall have the right for education in the least restrictive environment which can be defined as follows:

"that to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactory."

4. Every child requiring special education shall be fully assessed by a multi-disciplinary team including the parents and where appropriate the student himself/ herself. An individualized educational program with clearly stated curriculum goals and short-term onjectives including detailed provisions to be provided has to be drawn up by this multi-disciplinary team. This program has to be reviewed at least every year or when any member of the team deems necessary.

5. The Education authorities have to provide a whole range of services to meet the range of special needs in our community. Hence it has to provide support services to regular schools, special classes in regular schools, units attached to regular schools and when indicated in the application of the "least restrictive environment" principle, special schools. As a first measure, a comprehensive and graduated plan should be drawn up to start organizing special provisions in regular schools to start educating children who at present are attending special schools.

6. Teachers working in the regular school system have to be offered training and facilities in order to help integrate children with disabilities within regular schools. The Faculty of Education of the University of Malta shall offer the necessary training in this regard in its curriculum.

7. All systems within special education shall offer a quality education equal to that of the general school system and closely linked to it. These systems shall have the necessary tools to do so both in terms of specialized personnel and equipment.


8. There shall be a Resource Centre for all persons involved in special education. The expertise of professionals working within the special educational sector has to be utilized to the maximum.

9. The involvement of the parents is vital and has to be encouraged and ongoing. Hence they have to be offered support on diagnosis, helped to understand what would be going on, and eventually to contribute in the discussions held and to implement and monitor the individualized educational program drawn.

10. Personnel involved in the multi-disciplinary team have to be trained to work as a team, share information and beleive in the above stated philosophy.

11. The Education Authorities, including University authorities shall continue to allow increased flexibility in the application of any regulation in order to meet the special needs of students with disabilities.

12. Students with disabilities should be encouraged to continue their education even at tertiary level and for this reason have to be given all the necessary facilities to do so.

13. The vocational education of children with disabilities, which should lead them to the world of employment, shall be an integral part of his or her general education and has to be undertaken in liaison with all concerned, including professionals from outside the educational field.

14. Adult Education provisions have to cater also for the special needs of persons with disabilities.

15. It is imperative that all educationl facilities be physically accessible to be able to implement these policies.

16. It is imperative that Government provides all the neccessary funds to the Ministry of Education to implement these policies.


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