On May 7, the President of NASO Mr. Georgi Georgiev and the leaders of other organizations from Bulgaria, members of EASPD, participated in a meeting of the General Assembly of the European Association of Social Service Providers. As part of the agenda, the assembly accepted new members of the organization and approved the annual financial statements for 2020. The proposed new members of the board were also approved. The participants discussed some new documents of the organization as a draft strategy of EASPD for the period 2022-2025. Green Manifesto, establishment of new awards for innovation and overall achievements, etc.
In connection with the 25th anniversary of the establishment of EASPD, a new logo, a new website and information for the European Conference in October this year, dedicated to the anniversary, were presented.
The conference brought together over 300 participants and provided the opportunity to take stock of the current state of inclusive education following the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, supporting learners, their families and schools with the transition back to the classroom was highlighted as a priority. With the uptake of technology accelerated during the pandemic, speakers also reiterated the importance of ensuring access to the resources and technology that teachers and students need. The access to these resources must be joined by the appropriate training to be able to maximise the potential of digital tools to support inclusion.
The conference was held in the framework of the Erasmus+ ‘To Inclusive Education and BEYOND project’ (BEYOND) which aims to empower special schools and service providers supporting children with special needs, to facilitate the transition towards fully inclusive education systems. Such services in the field of education play a key role in both the transition back into the classrooms and the move towards more inclusive education. The conference showcased the role of support services in creating inclusive learning environments, with these services working together with teachers, learners, families and other professionals to not just learn alongside their peers, but also enjoy all aspects of school life, such as sport, artistic or cultural activities.
The conference emphasised that education and training are vital steps to inclusive employment opportunities and the full participation of persons with disabilities in their communities throughout their lives. However, education is not a first step on the path to inclusion and the provision of early childhood support and care is essential for enabling children with disabilities to flourish from the very start.