Armenian Delegations Visit ICI to Promote Inclusive Education
Two delegations from Armenia visited ICI in April as part of a UNICEF Armenia-funded project known as Enhancing the Inclusion of Children and Youth with Disabilities in Armenia: University of Minnesota/Armenian State Pedagogical University Partnership. The nine visitors spent two weeks at ICI, meeting with Renáta Tichá and Brian Abery, who are ICI's co-directors on the project, and visiting other sites in Minnesota related to inclusive education. "Self-advocacy and advocacy for people with disabilities were two important concepts the delegations wanted to learn about and to explore with ICI colleagues and with self-advocates," says Tichá. The delegations included Karine Harutyunyan, the Deputy Minister of Education of Armenia; Mher Melik-Bakhshyan, the Pro-rector of Special Education at Armenian State Pedagogical University (ASPU); as well as additional ASPU faculty and several education officers from UNICEF Armenia.
The trips exposed the visitors to different inclusive environments and practices for children, youth, and adults with disabilities in Minnesota. They visited sites around the Twin Cities, including the Minnesota Department of Education, Fraser School, White Bear Lake Public Schools, LDA Minnesota, Simon Technology Center, and Shirley Moore Lab School (pictured). They also met with ICI Director David R. Johnson, Jean Quam, Dean of the College of Education and Human Development; and Frank Symons, the College's Associate Dean for Research and Policy.
During their visits, the team discussed ways of adapting and adopting different inclusive practices to Armenian schools and in the teacher preparation program at ASPU. The team also discussed the development of a guidebook on inclusive education for Armenia as well as a documentary being produced by ICI's Jerry Smith.