by Andreas Kokkinos
Ms. Youla Pitsiali, President of the Board of Directors of the NGO "Embrace of Hope" for children with cerebral palsy, discussed the reasons for protest demonstrations by organizations calling for equal access to learning and education, as well as the problems and exclusion faced by children with disabilities in relation to special school chaperones, on the radio show "Diaspora News" of SPOR FM 95.0.
She stated that they have reached a point where they are fighting for basic rights such as equal access to learning, school, and education for children with disabilities, adding that the State separates children from the rest of society, condemning them to non-education. Ms. Pitsiali was then questioned about how the school year began and whether there are children who do not have a chaperone, and she confirmed that there are children who have had their chaperone removed and are still at home a month after classes began.
In terms of the procedure for selecting and assigning school chaperones, she stated that an allocation is made based on available funds. She stated that there is a committee of experts who decide on the "window dressing," but she also stated that officials from the Ministry of Education themselves admitted before the House that there are a certain number of chaperones allocated to the children who need them, but when this number is insufficient to cover each child, they "package" them. That is, one chaperone may be in charge of three, four, or even seven children.
The minister said today on state radio that there are still about 400 cases in the provincial committees being evaluated. "Mothers are turning the channels, objecting," she continued. She emphasized that "the children who complained last year were accompanied last year, this is not a new evaluation" and brought up the single education bill, which was discussed for three to four years but is now stashed away in a drawer despite receiving millions of euros from European structural funds.
Ms. Pitsiali went on to say that the Minister of Education, Prodromos Prodromou, "is not aware of his position," and that he ignores everyone, including the Commissioners. Children's Rights advocates stated earlier today that, as things stand, schools do not include but rather exclude children with disabilities.