Having an experience abroad is a common dream of many students in Europe. The Erasmus Plus program offers the opportunity to travel around Europe and discover new places and new cultures. Experiences abroad are gratifying and provide young people with skills useful for their future. Students with disabilities would like to have the same opportunities of their peers. Even though the Erasmus Plus program is open to all, students with special needs may find some barriers in accessing to mobility opportunities.
A recent report by the European Commission published in 2013 place the number of children with SEN at 15 million. According to the report, children with SEN frequently leave school with few qualifications and are much more likely to become unemployed or economically inactive. Mobility in VET is a key element of lifelong learning systems equipping people with knowledge, know-how, skills and competences required on the labour market.
It responds to the needs of the economy but also provides learners with skills for personal development and active citizenship. VET hence is central to employment and social policy. Even if the number of disabled young people participating in mobility programs is slightly growing (source: European Commission, Education and Training), the percentage remains low comparing with the number of non-disabled youngsters. Within its social policy, the EU promotes inclusive education and lifelong learning for students and pupils with disabilities.
It is in this framework that our project is slot in. The general objective of the project is to foster the participation to VET mobility opportunities for youngsters with special needs, easing their transition to the labour market and their social integration.
Besides this general objective, the project pursues two specific objectives. The first one is to establish or reinforce cooperation among VET providers from other European countries in order to exchange experiences.
The second one is to develop local partnerships among learning institutions, businesses and
intermediary bodies and raise awareness on topics such as: social inclusion, non-discrimination and equity. Our target group is composed by European youngsters aged 16-20 with special needs already enrolled in educational or training paths. In order to better define our target group, we have used the
OECD classification of Special Educational Needs (SEN) that distinguishes between three different categories.
Our project will focus on the first two categories which are: leaners with disabilities, namely students with disabilities or impairments viewed in medical terms as organic disorders attributable to organic pathologies (e.g. in relation to sensory, motor or neurological defects), and leaners with difficulties, namely students with behavioural or emotional disorders, or specific difficulties in learning.
Our project participants will be: the staff belonging to project partners and the target groups. Partner organisations’ staff will be involved in all project activities, while target groups will be involved only in ones. Target groups will be selected by each partner among local schools, businesses, job centres, associations and any other relevant institution. These entities will be contacted, interviewed and then invited in local round tables that will be organised by each partner.