To promote inclusive education in Armenia, the Institute on Community Integration is building a sustainable partnership with Armenian State Pedagogical University (ASPU), the only university in that central Asian country that trains both general and special education personnel. Armenia is making education more inclusive, triggering a critical need in the country for training, knowledge dissemination, and technical assistance to assist with this endeavor. This has paved the way for a new ICI project called Enhancing the Inclusion of Children and Youth with Disabilities in Armenia: University of Minnesota – Armenian State Pedagogical University Partnership. The 20-month, $150,000 project is funded by UNICEF Armenia and began May 16, 2016. Renáta Tichá is principal investigator and Brian Abery is co-principal investigator.
In this project, the partnering universities will collaborate to ensure that inclusive education practices proven in the U.S. can be adapted to Armenia and their usability and feasibility further understood. The collaboration will conduct gap analysis of current needs and inclusive practices in ASPU’s education and special education coursework, introduce ASPU faculty to inclusive practices in Minnesota, and build an online learning community (Inclusion Portal). Staff from the two universities will visit each other’s countries, and ICI filmmaker Jerry Smith will produce a film for the project that documents Armenia’s progress towards inclusive education. “This project is a wonderful opportunity to share expertise and experiences of inclusive education between our two countries, and to build a strong partnership between ICI and a pedagogical university in Yerevan, Armenia,” Tichá says. The project is part of ICI’s Global Resource Center on Inclusive Education.