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Em Ilija

Em Ilija

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Published by: LisbonBicaHouse on Mar 02, 2013
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Emilija Lazarević
 Institute for Educational Research, Belgrade, Serbia
Emina Kopas-
The Faculty of Pedagogical Sciences University of Kragujevac, Jagodina, Serbia
The current
 Law on the fundamentals of the education system
adopted in 2009 statesthat inclusive education is a legal obligation in Serbia, which has resulted in increasedaccessibility of education to children with disabilities in regular schools. In keeping with thecontemporary trends in education, this Law has created prerequisites for introducing numerousnovelties. Hence, the focus has been shifted from professional debates on the justifiability of thistype of education to the question of how to implement inclusive education most successfully. Numerous challenges have been encountered in the implementation of inclusive education in our country, while the role and place of parents of children with disabilities in inclusive education hasremained very important. In spite of the changes made so far, system solutions for enablingsupport, procedures and mechanisms for accomplishment and development of partner relations between teachers and parents in inclusive education have not yet been sufficiently developed inour education system. Parents of children with disabilities in our country are not very often partners in the process of education in which their children are involved. It is very important totake into account this fact since the role of teachers in the light of inclusive education does notonly presume accomplishment of the prescribed curriculum, but also demands from teachers tocreate the most optimal conditions for the development of students with disabilities, suitable totheir specific developmental and educational needs. Understanding the development of thesestudents and offering support cannot be achieved from the perspective of only one theoreticalframework or paradigm. Extensive knowledge of theory and its adequate implementation in practice is vital, and the place and role of parents in this process is essential and invaluable. This
 Note: This article is the result of the project
„From Encouraging Initiative, Cooperationa and Creativity in Education to
 New Roles and identities in Society
” No 179034
(2011-2014) and
of the project „
Improving the quality and accessibility
of education in modernization processes in Serbia” No III 47008
, financially supported by the Ministry of Education,Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia.
E-mail: elazarevic@rcub.bg.ac.rs
 paper discusses the role and place of parents of children with disabilities from the aspect of thecurrent situation in inclusive education.
Key words
: parents of children with disabilities, role and place of parents in inclusive education,teachers/school, cooperation, support.
The concept of inclusive education (IE
) has undergone significant changes in the Republic of Serbia during the last two decades. Including children with disabilities (CWD
) in contemporaryeducational courses has initiated a number of reforms in our education system, as well as change of 
the law. The current Law on the fundamentals of the education system, adopted in 2009 (Službeni
glasnik Republike Srbije, 12/72/2009/09), is based on fairness and openness of the educationsystem. It introduces important changes referring to fairer enrolment policy, increase of access toeducation to CWD, as well as to children from other vulnerable groups, adaptation of achievementstandards, preparation and execution of the individual education plan (IEP
) for every CWD. Thecurrent Law also envisages removal of categorisation and provision of additional educationalsupport to the child/student based on the assessment of an inter-domain committee, introducing a pedagogical assistant for extending support to children and teachers, gradual changes in financingof institutions that support childre
n’s inclusion in the education system etc. Additionally, this Law
has introduced many changes regarding the place and role of parents of students with disabilities(SWD
) in IE. Parents of students from vulnerable and marginalised groups (social deprivation,developmental impairment, physical disabilities etc.) participate in preparation of the IEP for their child, propose experts from outside the institution as members of the team in charge of theeducation plan, as well as give their consent for the delivery of the IEP. There is also an option of  parental presence during educational activities in order to help the child. Although general principles of the Law on the fundamentals of the education system point to the necessity andimportance of efficient cooperation with the family and parental involvement in the education process, implementation of the cooperation principle is a very complex and long-lasting process.Educational practice in Serbia has shown that key stakeholders in the education process, parents and teachers, i.e. school, are at completely different positions, which brings into focus the
In further text inclusive education will be abbreviated to IE.
In further text child with disabilities will be abbreviated to CWD.
In further text individual education plan will be abbreviated to IEP.
In further text student with disabilities will be abbreviated to SWD.
question of their cooperation and poses a challenge for development and maintenance of partner relations
(Radivojević & Jerotijević, 2007)
. In implementation of IE, the key positions, on the onehand, are given to teachers, who are expected to adequately play very complex new roles. Thesenew roles assume adequate pre-service education, as well as acquisition of new knowledge andskills in the IE domain and continuous development. Thus, we have expectations imposed uponteachers, and research findings of many authors from the world and Serbia that teachers do not feelcompetent enough to respond to the demands they face in inclusive practice (Florian & Rouse,2009; Villegas, 2007; Macura-
Milovanović, Gera & Kovačević, 2010). On the other hand, in
 parents of SWD, awareness about education as the right of every child, as well as awareness of their active role in creation of the necessary social and educational support, is still in its infancy. Parentsof SWD are poorly structured groups with low social power, who do not have the capacity to shape
their relations with school as partners and usually act as individuals (Radivojević & Jerotijević,
2007).The contemporary concept of education, quality education for all, does not only implyinclusion of SWD in regular school, but also readiness and positive attitude towards solving thespecific learning-related problems. Reform of the curriculum, the issue of education plan and theissue of standards, an individualised approach, reformed schools and formative assessment areonly some of the issues that need to be adequately solved in order to provide quality education to
SWD (Kovač
Cerović i sar., 2004). In t
he opinion of some authors, although IE is present in our schools, there are still numerous problems in its implementation
(Radó, 2009; Radó & Lazetić,
2010). It often happens in current educational practice that the beginning of education of SWDand the beginning of school-family cooperation are marked by confusion, tension, lack of openness and distrust
(Radivojević & Jerotijević, 2007)
, which further hinders development and progress of these students. The currency of these problems in the implementation of the modernconcept of IE was an incentive to deal with the issue of the importance of the role and place of  parents in solving specific learning- and behaviour-related problems in SWD.
The family of children with disabilities: problems and needs
Cooperation of teachers and parents of SWD implies various complex contextual, cognitive and
 personal variables and affects somewhat the quality and course of child’s education. Systemic
approach to the issue of development of cooperation between school and the family of SWD presumes knowledge and understanding of the structure and functioning of families of thesestudents. The family system, as a very complex entity, passes through different phases in its

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