A special and inclusive programme
Eleven students from ten different countries are staying in Oslo this semester to attend courses at the Department of Special Needs Education as a part of the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme in Special and Inclusive Education (EMSIE).
Photo: Marte Holhjem, UiO
Three partner institutions
The department is, together with the University of Roehampton, London, UK, and Univerzita Karlova v Praze (Charles University), Prague, Czech Republic, one of the partners in the Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree Programme in Special and Inclusive Education.
The students are taking courses at all three partner institutions. The 16-month programme started in London in September 2011 with an induction period followed by course work. In early January the group arrived in Oslo where they will be based until the end of March 2012. The students will then go to Prague to complete their last taught module. When all courses are completed the students will be divided into equal groups and based in one of the three main partner countries where they will complete their dissertations.
At the Department of Special Needs Education the eleven students, a selected group chosen from more than 100 applicants, are taking courses in Special and Inclusive Education for Learners with Special Needs, Research Methodology and Norwegian. They are studying on the whole together with the Norwegian and international students from the Department’s English master’s programme in Special Needs Education (M. Phil. SNE) and this definitely increases exposure to global issues in the field of special needs education.
Different perspectives on special and inclusive education
The international scope and orientation is something that characterizes EMSIE and makes it unique in the field of special and inclusive education. According to Dr Eileen Raymond, one of the visiting scholars connected to the programme, the students benefit from the experiences from the different countries and universities. - They do not get one faculty’s perspective on special and inclusive education, they get different perspectives, and therefore a better sense of the fluidity of the reality, she says.
One of the students on the programme, Martin Kavua from Kenya, agrees with Raymond that the international orientation is an advantage. - I chose the programme because of the international exposure it offers. We get to know both the British, Norwegian and Czech education systems, we visit schools in the countries we stay in, and we meet other students and scholars from around the world.
Student Martin Kavua
Photo: Marte Holhjem, UiO
A possibility to rethink and unlearn
Both Raymond and Kavua have told us that the international exposure is extremely valuable and gives them the possibility to rethink and unlearn previous beliefs and conceptions. - There is a tendency to believe that there is one answer, this programme gives them the possibility to unlearn these kinds of beliefs and misconceptions, says Raymond. - My most important experience so far is the sharing among the group of Erasmus Mundus students. We are a group of students from 10 countries and the sharing and the discussions between us has been enriching. The interaction with local groups in both Roehampton and Oslo has also been of great importance, says Kavua.
The courses, sharing and discussions have already led Kavua to adjust some of his opinions about special and inclusive education. - The most important thing I have learnt is that inclusion is possible if we do not go into the extreme polar positions. If we manage to move and adjust our positions inclusion will be possible. Before I started I was more reluctant to this idea.
Kavua is clear that he would recommend the programme to others. - I would definitely recommend it very strongly. It is a very good programme, a programme of a kind.