Valdis Zatlers

Valdis Zatlers

The public activities of First Lady


International conference on educating children and youth with special needs

An international conference, “An Inclusive Approach to the Education of Children and Youth With Special Needs,” will be held in Rīga from July 12-14.  There will be more than 400 specialists, scientists, educational policy developers and representatives of non-governmental organisations from 40 countries.  They will discuss and share experiences about the educational needs of children and youth with special needs.  First Lady Lilita Zatlere will open the conference.  She appreciates its importance, and that’s why she agreed to become the event’s patroness.

By taking part in the event, the First Lady hopes to focus on the need for joint efforts in making sure that children and youth with special needs can fully develop their creative, mental and physical abilities as part of the general education system.

“Children with special needs have very personal experience, and their parents have special concerns. All children and youth with special needs have the fundamental right to education.  I know how important it is for scholars and practitioners, as well as governmental and non-governmental organisations to work together in this area, and I would like to ask everyone at this conference to bring knowledge and experience to the table.  If they do, then at the end of the conference we will be able to encourage parents about the future of their children in terms of providing them with a high-quality education in a general school. The more successfully we integrate children with special needs into society, the greater will be the chance for other children and adults to meet them and learn about them.  An inclusive approach to education, therefore, is equally important for children and youth with special needs and for the rest of society,” says Mrs Zatlere.

The conference is being organised by the Educational Initiative Centre, the international STEP by STEP association, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Division of International Special Education and Services.  The conference is supported by the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science, the UNESCO National Commission, the Open Society Institute, and UNICEF.