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Challenges for teachers’ professional learning for inclusive education in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States


Efforts to prepare teachers and other professionals for inclusive education in the Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS/CEE) region are heavily influenced by the legacy of Soviet defectology (the study of children with disabilities) and Soviet traditions of teacher education. The authors identify some challenges facing those concerned with preparing teachers for inclusive education and provide examples of current projects in the region that address the complex problems associated with providing inclusive education for children identified as having disabilities. The changing role of defectologists in inclusion policy and practice is also discussed. Case examples from Armenia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan, and Serbia reflect current innovations in teacher education and professional development in the region.

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  1. This region includes four sets of nations: the Commonwealth of Independent States (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan); Central and Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia); South Eastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia); and the Baltic States (Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania).

  2. According to Tanner (2010), the Roma, also known as Romani or Gypsies, are traditionally semi-nomadic people who came from Northern India to Europe some 1,000 years ago. Historically they have faced severe discrimination and persecution and these problems are particularly acute in the CIS/CEE region where they live in the most deprived areas, are excluded from educational and employment opportunities, and have poor access to services, often being victims of racially motivated crimes (European Roma Rights Centre 2004).


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Correspondence to Lani Florian.

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We are grateful to the three reviewers who provided helpful comments on our work and to our colleagues in the region who provided examples of their work for inclusion in this paper: Sarmite Tubele, University of Latvia, Faculty of Education, Psychology and Art; Iva Strnadová and Vanda Hájková, Department of Special Education, Charles University in Prague; and Ulviya Mikailova, and Lamiya Sharafkhanova, Centre for Innovations in Education and Azerbaijan State Pedagogical University.

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Florian, L., Becirevic, M. Challenges for teachers’ professional learning for inclusive education in Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Prospects 41, 371–384 (2011).

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