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National report on legislation in inclusion in physical education, sports and employment
Latvia, A.Klavina
Inclusion in Physical education

1. Inclusion in general education

Since regaining its independence in 1991, Latvia has been experiencing fundamental changes including human rights and education policies toward integration of people with disabilities. The general education system in Latvia is monitored by the legislation defined as the State Standards of the General Education. These standards are included in the General Education Law of Latvia (Regulation nr. 37) and have been approved by the Council of Ministers of Latvia (Regulation nr. 462). The main regulation within the State Standards of the General Education defines that education is compulsory for all, including children with special needs. The term "special needs" is given to the child if she/he has an assigned impairment that is included in the list developed by the Latvian Ministry of Education and Science (LMES). This list includes eight categories of various impairments and diseases such as (1) visual impairments, (2) hearing impairments, (3) learning disability, (4) moderate and light mental retardation, (5) language problems, (6) chronic diseases like diabetes, asthma, (7) movement problems, and (8) some psycho neurological diseases (Regulation Nr.542, LMES, 2003). Regulation of the Ministers' Council of Latvia (MCL) considers that general schools having appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities may include these students in their education programs (Regulation nr.579, MCL, 2003). The LMES has developed several documents and policies with the aim of guaranteeing children with disabilities the opportunity to acquire the education appropriate to their health, abilities and level of development (Regulation nr.579, MCL, 2003, The General Education Law of Latvia, 2003). According to data of the LMES, about 9000 (about 2.8%) children with special needs are included in general education programs in Latvia (Education in Latvia, Statistics, 2004).  However, there are only few education settings that implement inclusive education programs. These schools provide education as well as rehabilitation services for students with disabilities. For example, in one general preschool setting there are about 250 students including 20 students with moderate and severe disabilities. The services for students with disabilities are provided by 4 teachers, 2 assistant teachers, 2 physiotherapists, ergotherapist, speech therapist, and psychologist. It is common that education of students with disabilities in general education settings is provided in special classrooms adapted to needs and abilities of these students. The time period for acquiring the basic education program for students with disabilities varies from 9-11 years.

2. Inclusion in physical education and school sports

There are not specific regulations in Latvia regarding inclusion of students with disabilities in general physical education (GPE). The number of PE classes varies between two to three lessons per week. Students with disabilities included in general education settings either attend PE class together with other classmates or they are excused from PE based on medical report or parent's requirements. There are not assistant teachers or adapted PE teachers available in general physical education. Some years ago the questionnaire about participation of students with disabilities in physical education was done by the Latvian Disabled Children's and Youth Sport Federation. A total of 226 questionnaires were obtained. Results revealed that 58.6 % of children with disabilities did not participate in GPE, although they attended general education schools.  Along this line, 22.5 % did not attend any educations setting, instead having individual home education service that did not include PE.  18.9 % of children with disabilities attended special schools where they had 2-3 PE classes per week. An interesting finding was that 91% of the participants noted they would like to participate in GPE regularly. Although, these results were very general, they were reasonable to consider serious problems regarding access and inclusion of children with disabilities in PE.

3. Inclusion in sports and physical activity

The out-of-school sport programs for children with disabilities are provided thanks to individual initiatives in local communities. The Latvian Disabled Children's and Youth Sport federation is the one of few non-governmental sport organizations for persons with disabilities in Latvia providing adapted sport activities locally as well as on state level. There are 24 member organizations in the LDCYSF, and more than 30 volunteers are involved in local sport programs across the country. Six athletes from the LDCYSF participated in the Paralympic Games in Athens in 2004 representing Latvia's State. Special Olympic in Latvia provides sport opportunities only for students with mental retardation from special schools.

Employment of youngsters with a disability

In Latvia people with disabilities traditionally have been one of socially vulnerable groups of population for whom participation in processes of civil society has not always been possible in adequate quality. The main reasons are various stereotypes prevailing in society, inaccessibility of environment as well as lack of enthusiasm of people with disabilities themselves. People with disabilities are becoming more and more aware of their rights and ways to implement them. In Latvia the law declares that person with disabilities has rights to register him/herself in the State employment service as unemployed and must be included in the vocational training. The Law of Work of Latvia, ratified in 2002, declares that any person has equal rights to work without any discrimination regarding disability, race, gender, age, religion, social origin, material or other circumstances. Latvian national legislation regarding vocational training and transition to work services for people with disabilities is defined by two laws:  (1) the Law to Support Unemployed and for Work Seekers (2002); and (2) the Order Assignation of the Status of Unemployed (2003). Unfortunately, these laws do not complement each other. For example, the area of social support is completely separate from the area of employment and environment accessibility.

Analysis of the situation in EU presents 62% of population have employment relations, however, only 24% among people with disabilities (Disability and social participation in Europe, Eurostat, 2001). The results of survey on employment in Latvia revealed that rate on people with disabilities employment is about 15%.

In 2003 the European Committee ratified legislative document on guidelines of employment policies in EU member countries. To implement these policies in Latvia, the government initiated project ‚ÄěSubsidized jobs for persons in risk of social segregation". The aim of this project was to increase vocational education and job service possibilities for people with disabilities offered by state, public, or private enterprises. The objectives included development of employment programs with the purpose to integrate people with disabilities in the labor market. The vocational practice for persons with disabilities during this project was 9-12 months. However, at now the Ministry of the Welfare in Latvia works on project annexes documents to extend the time of project activity till 3 years. Thus, persons with disabilities who received vocational trained and were employed in the subsidized working places, could continue vocational practice for three years. This decision was made considering suggestions and recommendations of people with disabilities who were involved in this project. Results revealed that subsidized vocational services were provided to 410 individuals with disabilities in Latvia from 2003 to 2004. 260 of these people prolonged contracts with their employees and 173 got permanent jobs. Although limited finances from the state, these results presented positive trends towards improvement of vocational training and employment services for people with disabilities. This project improved the infrastructure of environment for employing people with disabilities in the state, so that people with disabilities can be assisted in finding employers. However, there are limited support programs for people with disabilities to assist them during the transfer process to promote the social integration of people with disabilities and enhance possibilities for independent living.

Sources:

Klavina, A., Block, M., & Larins, V. (2007) Assessment of physical education teachers attitudes towards adapted physical education in Latvia. Palaestra, 23(3).

Klavina, A., & Joma, S. (2004). Mainstream preschool education for children with special needs - reality and possibilities. References, International Scientific Conference Theory and Practice in Teacher Training", Riga, Latvia, 134 -140

A Yearbook of the Ministry of Welfare. (2003). State investment programs. Retrieved December 4, 2004, from www.lm.gov.lv/doc_upl/2003.gada_parskats(2).doc

Informative Overview about Changes in Social Politics. (2004). Latvian Ministry of Welfare, Riga. Retrieved December 3, 2004, from HERE.

Pranka,M., Trapenciere, I., Trupovniece, A. (2003). Possibilities and Reasons of Social Segregation for Groups of People in Risk of Unemployment. Retrieved December 5, 2004, from http://www.lm.gov.lv/doc_upl/gala_peetiijums(2).doc


Sport Structure for people with disabilities in Latvia

On a governmental level the Ministry of Education and Science of Latvia (http://izm.izm.gov.lv/) is a leading umbrella institution for sports in Latvia.

The organization of sport for people with disabilities in Latvia is monitored by the Latvian Paralympic Committee (http://www.lpkomiteja.lv/lpk.php)

There are several sport federations providing sports opportunities for persons with different disabilities:

Latvian Wheelchair Basketball Sports Federation (http://www.ratinbasketbols.lv/)

Latvian Disabled Children's and Youth Sport Federation

Latvian Association in Standing Ice Hockey

Latvian Sitting Volleyball Association

Latvian Sport Federation for Disabled

Latvian Sport Federation for Deaf

Latvian Sport Union for Blind

Latvian Special Olympic

Adaptive Equestrian Sports under Equestrian Federation of Latvia

Swimming for people with disabilities under Swimming Federation of Latvia

Wrestling for people with disabilities under Wrestling Federation of Latvia

Judo for people with disabilities under Judo Federation of Latvia

Archery for people with disabilities under Latvian Archery Federation

 

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