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Difficult children? No! Children with specific learning difficulties! – Commission takes action

Difficult children? No! Children with specific learning difficulties! – Commission takes action

2013. 10. 02.

Key-speaker of the conference George Zissimos, member of the cabinet of Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth said that the European Commission plans to launch a platform for sharing good practices aimed at improving literacy across Member States by establishing a European network on literacy in coming December. He also highlighted that within the framework of Erasmus+ program around 14 billion euros will be devoted to educational needs for the next 7 years.
 
EDA President Sr. Michael Kalmár stressed the importance of understanding the implications of social, emotional, behavioural and community issues for dyslexic learners and their families. “As these learning difficulties remain hidden or are recognised too late, children are often labelled as lazy or not clever, which undermines their self-esteem and hinders their integration, provoking extreme shyness or violent behaviour, aggravating their problems” – he pointed out.
 
“If these young people do not get professional help in their schools to overcome their learning difficulties, their achievements will be low and they leave the education system too early, which leads to unemployment” – highlighted Raymond Claes, chair of DYSPEL from Luxembourg.  Professional and early identification and support, in all Member States, motivates these students to follow higher education. Only in this way can they become valuable citizens, for the economic and social benefit of the European Union. He insisted that the Commission should think about setting up a Task Force for Sp.L.D. Teacher Training.
 
Dr. Konstanze Edtstadler form the University of Graz, Austria stressed that better training of teachers about the specific learning difficulties can stop the early drop-out of schools.
 
Margaret Malpas, president of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) talked about the good practice in the United Kingdom. She displayed the BDA Code of Practice for Employers, which is a guide for employers on supporting employees with dyslexic difficulties and includes guidance on recruitment, written tests, training, promotion, appraisals and disciplinary procedures, performance and assessments, reasonable adjustments and employer’s obligations under the UK Disability Discrimination Act.
 
Giannis Karagiannakis, representing the University of Athens, Greece emphasised the importance of multidisciplinary approach, which can contribute to assessing Mathematical Learning Difficulties in a more thorough and accurate way in order to identify mathematical profiles of students early on, while Prof. Giacomo Stella form the University of Bologna, Italy introduced the IREST Study Group, which developed a set of comparable instruments to test reading acquisition and performance in different languages.
 
Pernilla Söderberg from the Swedish University of Växjö gave an overview of the actual research on dyslexia.
 
All speakers emphasised the need for a complex approach of the problem and stressed the need of establishing a European network dealing with specific learning difficulties in order to provide accurate information to parents, children and teachers as well. Raymond Claes, who just finalised a European Lifelong learning project on Sp.L.D., announced that he is now negotiating the creation of such a network on an international level and has several universities and other associations willing to support such an International Sp.L.D. Support Group.