Russian views on inclusive education

Poll: 59% of Russians have never heard of inclusive education

30 August 2021

What fears are associated with inclusive education and why is tolerance alone not enough to create an equal opportunity environment?

Deputy head of the regional investigation and consulting practice of the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (RPORC), Anna Zhirikova, presented the joint sociological study done by the RPORC, the Naked Heart Foundation, and the Autism Regions Association, on the attitudes of Russians towards inclusive education.

It showed that 59% of those surveyed had not heard of inclusive education until the researchers asked them about it. A further 16% were unsure if they had heard about it.

After an explanation of what inclusive education is, 66% of respondents said they view it positively. Most of the respondents have positive attitudes towards young people and residents of small towns.

Among the advantages of an inclusive approach, Russians cited the socialisation of children with developmental needs and increased tolerance from regular children.

Meanwhile, 57% are concerned that mixed education could lead to an increased risk of conflicts, fights, and bullying. A third of respondents thought the inclusive approach lowers the overall level of education.

Naked Hearts Foundation expert and clinical psychologist, Tatyana Morozova, is confident that the majority of such fears are linked to a lack of understanding, which is unfortunately a common feature in the implementation of inclusivity in Russia.

“Inclusivity involves not only mixed education, but the creation of equal opportunities, including the creation of modern support programmes”, explains Morozova. “If we take just the first part of the definition, it’s about integration, but it’s still just a case of throwing all the kids in at the deep end and seeing which ones sink or swim”.

Head of the communications and media relations department at Autism Regions, Ekaterina Zalomova, asserts that mere kindness and tolerance is not enough to achieve real inclusivity. It is equally important that teachers be properly trained in the methodologies of working with children with special needs.

“The Russian law on inclusive education has been in place for more than ten years already, but the Ministry of Education has yet to train teachers in how to work with children with developmental needs. There are tried and tested methods which are successfully applied all over the world, but in Russia they are only available at a cost in commercial centres. As long as the problem of funding for educational programmes remains unsolved, there won’t be any inclusivity”, says Zalomova.


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