6.6 Social inclusion through education and training
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In chapter 12 on the Eurydice website, the national policy on people with disabilities, and how it pertains to students on all school levels, is described:
The Act on the Affairs of Disabled People, passed in 1992, stipulates that all individuals with disabilities (defined as mental retardation, psychiatric illness, physical disability, blindness and/or deafness as well as disabilities resulting from chronic illness and accidents) are to be enabled to live and function in the community.
Integration of all students in mainstream education, as far as possible, is therefore the policy in Iceland and no separate legislation exists covering special education either at pre-primary, compulsory or the upper secondary education level. The general aims of the legislation on each school level apply to all pupils including those with disabilities and special needs (https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/fpfis/mwikis/eurydice/index.php/Iceland:Educational_Support_and_Guidance).
Usually, students with disabilities are identified early and can thus receive education suited to their needs. This is because health service, educational and social workers pay special attention to children mental and physical condition. If a child is suspected of showing symptoms of disability, parents or guardians are notified immediately, and upon further assessment, parents are directed to the appropriate national agency. The four main national agencies concerned are: The State Diagnostic and Counselling Centre, Icelandic organization of the visually impaired, the National Hearing and Speech Centre and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Unit of the National Hospital. Each agency seeks adequate solutions of diagnosis and treatment in consultation with the parents (ibid.)
Law for each school stage stipulates the specificities in terms of education disabled students should receive. The Pre-primary School Act, for example, dictates that
children who, because of their disabilities or because of emotional or social difficulties, need special assistance or training, are to be provided with such support, in their own pre-primary school in cooperation with the municipality. This is supervised by the head teacher of the pre-primary school in cooperation with the teacher, a developmental therapist or other specialist services such as a speech therapists or psychologist according to Ordinance on Specialist Services in Schools nr. 584/2010 (ibid.)
No specific policies exist related to support for students with disabilities in non-formal and informal learning environment. It is however included in the Act on the Affairs of Disabled People, where it says that all individuals with disabilities are to be able to live and function in the community. Municipalities are responsible to providing all such services to individuals with disabilities.
Policies on social cohesion and equal opportunities are stipulated in the National Curriculum for Compulsory Schools and the National Curriculum for Secondary Schools. These qualities are not taught via a separate subject but rather they are to be integrated throughout schools day to day activities, as general objectives of the education system (http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/139EN.pdf).
No programs, projects or initiatives are organized by the top-level authorities. However, top-level authorities fund organizations which operate under the values of equal opportunities, such as the Icelandic Youth Association (UMFÍ) (only available in Icelandic).