A report comparing special education teaching in Denmark, Norway and Sweden provides the starting-point for an article that describes the Danish situation from the students’ viewpoint. The message is that students should have more influence on what courses are offered and that there should be more emphasis on personal and professional development. These are some of the results of the development and research project described by Karen Brygmann in her article Øget ligeværd, tak!
The chairperson of the Swedish Association of Special Adult Educators, who writes from a teacher’s perspective, stresses the importance of realistic goals. She also thinks that Swedish special adult education (särvux) students should have a right to study for the purpose of maintaining their skills like their Norwegian counterparts do.
Raivo Juurak’s article gives a comprehensive picture of the difficult choices that Estonia is struggling with in the area of special education. Are special schools better than integration in ordinary schools? Whose interests should adult education serve – society’s or the individual’s? And the third question: should the focus should be on vocational education or increased freedom of choice for the target group? In Finland, too, integration and inclusion have become a big issue. Too big, according to headmaster Sixten Snellman at Yrkesträningsskolan Optima, a special education institution in Nykarleby.
The second focal point of this issue is language learning in the broadest sense. An article from Åland, Läs- och skrivförmåga – en generell nyckelkompetens? clarifies the content of some basic concepts. According to the article, students should be given reading and writing training that corresponds to authentic reading and writing situations.
Tor Erik Skaar writes about adult learners whose mother tongue is not the language of the country in which they currently live. He gives a positive account of the new introduction programme that all refugees in Norway must complete. The aim of the programme is integration through the acquisition of basic skills. The experiences from the past two years have been very promising. This positive experience is in stark contrast to the situation described in Liesma Ose’s article about Latvia, where the government has launched one programme after another to try and persuade the significant Russian-speaking population to learn Latvian. But as Liesma says at the end of her article: you can learn from your mistakes. In the future all target groups should be included in the planning, realisation and follow-up phases of new language programmes, she suggests.
Clara Henriksdotter’s article combines the two focal points of this issue of DialogWeb. She describes a project undertaken by Kårkulla samkommun whose purpose is to provide education in Swedish for adults with disabilities. In other words, the goal is to minimise the risk of marginalisation of a minority group within a minority group. So, go ahead – read and think!