Inclusive education has become a highlighted issue lately in Hungary as in many other countries in Europe. Inclusiveness refers to the acceptance of all children in general and to providing individual support to learners regardless of the kind of disadvantage they might have. Due to the significantly high number of students with socioeconomic disadvantages in vocational education in Hungary promotion of social inclusion through vocational education is vital.
The Observatory Centre for Educational Development and its partners the Tempus Public Foundation and the Training and Research Institute (Türr István) decided to move implementation of inclusive education in Hungary forward and set up a project called Promotion of social inclusion through VET (PSIVET).
Work started at the beginning of 2012. Since then the project has offered practical tools (via a workshop, a conference and collection of international best practice examples) to VET school leaders on how to implement the idea of inclusiveness in their institutions. The project will also make policy recommendations for decision-makers on how to reform existing measures or create new ones to make the Hungarian VET system more equitable. These will be based on analysis of nine recently implemented national programmes that were designed to improve the predicament of disadvantaged students.
International experts have been involved at several points during the lifetime of the project to complement the Hungarian viewpoint. At a workshop organised for teacher trainers the importance of system leadership in the process towards successful realisation of inclusive education was highlighted, calling on VET leaders to think of their schools as part of a community. At a conference organised in October 2012 the principles of the Index for Inclusion – a practical tool that can be used by institutions to assess the level of inclusiveness of their operations and define areas for improvement with the help of a self-assessment exercise – were presented.
The indicators applied can be grouped in three dimensions: (a) creating inclusive cultures; (b) producing inclusive policies; and (c) evolving inclusive practices. All dimensions separate further into: (i) building a community and (ii) establishing inclusive values. During application of the index for inclusion indicators must be compared to the situation of the institution, and areas for improvement have to be defined in line with identified weaknesses. Since the structure of the index can be linked to the Hungarian VET school self-assessment model developed earlier within the VET school development programme, Hungarian schools will easily be able to start using the index for inclusion.