From Segregation to Equalization: The Polish Perspective
Previously in Poland, the segregation of children with disabilities was the norm. Recent changes to legislation entitled “Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities” specifically address the education of persons with disabilities. States are required to recognize the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary educational opportunities for children, youth and adults with disabilities into integrated settings. The education of persons with disabilities should be an integral part of the educational system (United Nations, 1993). This article reports on the education of children with intellectual disabilities living in full-time care institutions and provides an analysis of assumptions underpinning inclusive education in Poland. Specifically, this paper will: (a) introduce the history of education for children with disabilities, (b) provide an analysis of current legislation from 1991 to 2003 addressing education for children with disabilities, and, (c) explore examples of how education was provided to a select group of institutionalized children and young adults. In spite of recent changes to educational policy and formal regulations within the educational system, students with intellectual disabilities continue to be segregated within educational institutions.