Learning does not begin with compulsory schooling, it starts from birth. The EU strategic framework for Education and Training 2020 recognises Early Childhood Education and Care systems’ (ECEC) potential for addressing social inclusion and economic challenges, and has therefore set a benchmark to ensure that at least 95% of children aged between four and the starting age of compulsory education, participate in ECEC. According to the final report “ECEC for children from disadvantaged backgrounds”, released by the EU Commission in 2012, participation in ECEC is considered “a crucial factor for socialising children into formal education”.
ECEC is especially beneficial for the most disadvantaged children, including those on the autism spectrum, whose gains in cognitive and socio-emotional development are higher than for neurotypical children. However, according to the report “Support for children with special educational needs” by the European Commission’s DG for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion, these children tend to be less represented in ECEC due to the lack of adapted settings.
The need for inclusive education is enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which in article 24.2 states that persons with disabilities should not be excluded from the general education system, setting the challenge of allowing education systems to be adapted to all students.
Therefore, the ETTECEC project aims at improving the ECEC systems of the partner regions by making them inclusive and avoiding the segregation of children with autism. This will allow these children to be better prepared to enter the general education system.
The project will implement an innovative pedagogical approach based on the inclusion paradigm of education, developing a didactic online course focused on children aged 0-6 (pre-school). Its fundamental philosophy could also make it equally relevant to other stages of education where it could be successfully applied (considering the different needs and features of their learners). The course will include different modules based on specific situations that could happen in the classroom.
The project will deliver a pilot of the training for 18 pre-school teachers from 5 schools (from Ljubljana, Prague and the Canary Islands), who will then use their newly acquired competences in a classroom setting. A total of 270 children will therefore be involved in inclusive education methods.
The ETTECEC partnership brings together academics and professionals from various education centers and autism organisations across Europe. Those involved come from various backgrounds – both national and cultural – and have a wide set of skills. The project coordinator, Asociación Mi Hijo y Yo from Spain will work closely with all the other partners: Svetovalnica za avtizem and the Educational Research Institute (Pedagoški inštitut) from Slovenia, the Fakultní mateřská škola Sluníčko pod střechou při Pedf UK (Mateřská škola) and Schola Empirica from the Czech Republic and Autism-Europe from Belgium.
About the Erasmus+ Programme
Erasmus+ is the EU’s programme to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe. Its budget of €14.7 billion will provide opportunities for over 4 million Europeans to study, train, gain experience, and volunteer abroad.