Transcript Slide 1

Higher education for people with
intellectual disabilities
Pretend or reality?
Dr. Kristín Björnsdóttir, Assistant Professor
Steinunn Ása Þorvaldsdóttir, University Student
Philosophy and purpose
The future and final
• The development of education in Iceland is similar to other Nordic
• The Vocational Program started in 2007 at the Iceland University of
• It was a development education project, evaluated with qualitative
• Two groups have graduated (2009 and 2011)
• The third group were enrolled fall term 2011 and expected to graduate in
• The program is still a development education project
• It is a two-year part time education (60 ECT)
Philosophy and Purpose
• The aim is to prepare students
for specific jobs within the field
of education and to give them
opportunity for further
• A social approach to disability
• The UN Convention on the
Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (2007)
• Inclusive education
What we do
First year – Fall
First year - Spring
Study skills in university work (5e)
Elective courses (5-10e)
Career guidance I (5e)*
(leisure and children, social education,
playschool arts, games as pedagogy)
IT and digital media OR Effective
communication (5e)
Practicum I (5-10e) *
Second year – fall
Second year - Spring
Disability studies (10e)
Elective courses (5-10e)
Career guidance II (5e) *
Practicum II (5-10e)
Inclusive Education – The Mentor System
• The mentor system was developed as a support system for the students in
the vocational program.
• Each student should be able to receive individual support from a fellow
• Students within the department of Social Education and other
departments at the School of Education can choose elective credits as
• Students who enroll in the mentor module/course meet once a week and
participate in seminars and receive support from our staff member
(Ágústa) and other professors
• Student mentors are usually enrolled in the same modules/courses as the
students in the vocational program.
• The role of a mentor is to support the student with reaching his/hers set
education goals.
• Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities – Article
• “States Parties shall ensure that
persons with disabilities are able to
access general tertiary education,
vocational training, adult education
and lifelong learning without
discrimination and on an equal basis
with others. To this end, States
Parties shall ensure that reasonable
accommodation is provided to
persons with disabilities”.
Higher education?
• “The Faculty of Sport, Leisure Studies
and Social Education offers vocational
diploma for people with intellectual
disabilites that is organised in
continuation of upper secondary level
• As a main rule, students enrolling in
higher education institution must
have completed matriculation
examination or equivalent study
• First Cycle – Level 1 – short cycle
leading to diploma
• Give each student the possibility to
have an individualized education
based on his or her strengths,
interests and chosen field of work
• Steinunn’s practicum
• Give each student the possibility to
gain practical knowledge and social
skills in a inclusive learning
• Our aim is also to ensure the best
work study (practicum) and support
people with disability towards full
membership in society.
• Daniel’s practicum
• Give the students a possibility to
choose a work - related focus:
– Preschool - nursery
– Afterschool clubs
– School libraries
– Within leisure and sport
– Special projects
• Multi-art group 2011
• Café 2012?
What do our students say?
• The practicum is practical
• More interesting tasks
and more responsibilities
• Increased self-esteem
• Made new friends
• Obstacles
– The system
– Supported employment
– Recession
Steinunn‘s thoughts
• Steinunn is enrolled in a disability studies course with 70
other students
• Steinunn is learning social approaches to disability and
how society can make people with impairments disabled
• In this course she is also learning about inclusive
research and life histories
• Steinunn is also learning gender studies
• Steinunn enjoys studying with her non-disabled peers
External report
• Sometimes I feel that disability advocates are mad when
they confuse human rights with all people being equal
• I think this program is just pretend – they are pretending
that this primary school level education is higher learning.
Education does not become higher learning simply being
housed in a building called university
• University education should be higher learning and it is
wrong and dangerous to have it dumbed down so
everyone can graduate
What do the professors say?
• In general positive
• The students with
intellectual disabilities
had exceeded their
• Were proud to be part of
this program and proud
of the students
Future Vision
School of
School of
School of
School of
School of
Final thoughts
• It has been a privilege to have
the opportunity to develop and
be a part of this program with
our students and teachers. We
have learnt a lot and grown as
• We have learnt that our
students have not been
challenged enough in the past
and it poses a question about
the opportunities and demands
made within the Icelandic
school system.