Azerbaijan reached a new milestone of inclusive education. Six of its institutions of higher education opened centers for students with disabilities. Now students with special needs can receive consultations and other help inside their universities.
TEMPUS “The Establishment of a Foundation for the Integration of Disabled People into HEIs of Azerbaijan” (ESFIDIP) Project was initiated by a private university “Khazar” in cooperation with a number of local and European HEIs, sectoral ministries and NGOs of Azerbaijan. It is notable that there have not been projects in similar scale or number of partners involved domestically and abroad. The project was implemented over 3.5 years, from December of 2013 until May of 2017. Besides “Khazar” University, five state universities from Baku, Ganja, Nakhchivan, Sumgayit and Lankaran joined the project. The Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Projects, and Union of Disabled People, that brings together over 45 local public organizations, acted as the project partners. It should be noted that such centers for the students with disabilities were created for the first time in the country.
During the project implementation, we often met with experts and with the communities. In the meetings, we informed them about the targets and tasks of the project, and we learned their opinions. This helped us to update and improve the project implementation process,” said Rima Mammadova, the project manager and coordinator of the Center for Students with Disabilities at “Khazar” University.
The tasks of the Center for Students with Disabilities are organization and coordination of all issues related to students with disabilities at the university. Such can be the order of document submissions, monitoring of implementation policies towards students with disabilities, contacting and consulting with academic and administrative personnel, organization of required objects, support and information. CSDs also offer information and assistance in making it easier to comply with academic requirements. For that, auxiliary technologies in support for academic purposes will be created so that students can pass their tests according to their individual needs.
The Center will provide assistance and services for the students with disabilities in vision, with partial vision disabilities, and with limited mobility and speech disabilities. The Center coordinator will provide methodologic recommendations for assistance and services for persons with disabilities of different types at all faculties of the University. For more details on operations of the CSD please visit its website in the Azeri and English languages: http://esfidip.khazar.org/. According to Rima Mammadova, the aim of the project is to establish the foundation for the integration of persons with disabilities in HEIs of Azerbaijan, and to introduce European expertise to the local universities. In addition to the local HEIs, partners included Lodzin University in Poland, the State University of Macedonia, Grack University in Austria, and the Human European Consultancy from the Netherlands, an organization that specializes in development and monitoring of human rights regulations.
By the completion of the project all CSDs opened at universities were transferred to the balance sheets of the participating universities and started regular operations with equipment and staff. Currently, they are actively designing a new project to expand such centers to the other HEIs in Azerbaijan.