School for All: “These opportunities offer inclusion”

The professional future decides for many people with disabilities as a child. Because they are rarely allowed to attend general schools and have little chance of finding a job in the first job market. Eva-Maria Thom’s “A School for All” explains the contribution of a common school for children with and without disabilities to the professional lives of all people.

Pupils in Germany often choose their career options after elementary school. For the change from one type of school, such as the Hauptschule, to another, such as a Gymnasium, is not easily possible for children. What is difficult for students without disabilities, is virtually impossible for those with disabilities , knows Eva-Maria Thoms of the association, A School for All ‘. As a shared school is the key to inclusion in all walks of life, it is committed to inclusive classes . There children with and without disabilities can grow up together and learn from and with each other . In your opinion, this not only facilitates the path for all people in the first job market , but also makes an important contribution to more acceptance and an open society.

Mrs Thoms, you are campaigning for inclusion and calling for a school for all. What is the typical school biography of a child with a disability who can not go to a general school?

Eva-Maria Thoms: Children with disabilities usually go to special schools in Germany. Although they are intensively supported by the teaching staff there, they lack the suggestions they would receive at a general school through the great variety of their classmates . Children learn primarily from children. Lack of experience with other peers and their interests and talents can not replace a pedagogue.

In addition: Only very few special schools teach higher education . More than one high school diploma is usually not provided. In fact, about two-thirds of all students still leave the special school without a degree.

They help parents who wish to visit a general school for their disabled child. What problems do parents have to deal with?

Eva-Maria Thoms: Parents who wish to attend a regular school for their child are faced with opposition from authorities and, unfortunately, still largely lacking social acceptance . It is supposedly everyone that society should handle people with disabilities well. But it is just as natural for everyone to belong in special institutions . People with disabilities suddenly appear in the ‘middle of society’, for example in schools or at work , which often causes severe irritation. This is particularly the case when habitual procedures have to be changed, so that everyone can feel good and work well.

What significance does a school have for all children with disabilities for their school and professional success?

Eva-Maria Thoms: Anyone who wants to live integrated into society as an adult must be allowed to learn as a child. However, when children with and without disabilities become separated, inclusion in adulthood becomes a major problem . People with disabilities have not learned to move in the so-called center of society. Accordingly, a transition to training and employment in the primary labor market is difficult for them.

At the same time, people without disabilities have not acquired any competence in how to deal with each other. They will therefore also have greater reservations about accepting people with disabilities as colleagues or employees. This shows that the common school is the key to inclusion in all areas of life.

This is understood as the first and second labor market

The first labor market differs from the second labor market in that the latter exists only through public funding. The second labor market is an instrument of labor market policy, for example, to integrate the long-term unemployed or people with disabilities into everyday work.

In your opinion, what would politics have to do better in order to better target the needs of children with disabilities?

Eva-Maria Thoms: We at Mittendrin eV would be happy if the school inclusion would not be questioned by politics again and again . Change always provokes protest and indignation . If politicians then demand that the process of inclusion be slowed down or curtailed, society is signaled that one may not have to take the participation of people with disabilities seriously. This in turn reduces the willingness to engage in inclusion. That’s a vicious circle . Politicians should firmly represent the goal of inclusion and show the opportunities . In addition, they should consistently switch to inclusion when financing.