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A dissertation submitted in part fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of MSc. in the School of Education

September 2006

Fotopoulou Kyrini

Educational Support and Inclusion
University of Manchester


Table of Contents

pp 5

Chapter 1: INCLUSION

1.1 Integration and Inclusive Education pp 7
1.2 The Socio-political Aspect of Inclusion pp 9


Introduction pp12
2.1 Early Twentieth Century Policy pp13
2.2 The 1143/81 Law pp14
2.3 The 1566/1985 Law pp15
2.4 The 14.3.2000 Law: Education for All pp17


Introduction pp 19
3.1 The Greek Education System’s selective nature pp 20
3.2 Integration, not inclusion for all pp 22
3.2.1 Curriculum for the few, the “normal” pp 22
3.2.2 Lack of sufficient infrastructure and resources pp 25
3.2.3 The “Classroom Practice” project, 2001 pp 25
3.3 Stereotypes and prejudices pp 27
3.3.1 Lack of information pp 27
3.3.2 Lack of studies on special needs pp 29
3.4 The negative attitudes of non-disabled students pp 29
3.4.1 Attitudes of students of younger age pp 30
3.4.2 Attitudes of students in adolescence or early adulthood pp 32
3.5 Lack of training of and support for the teachers pp 33
3.5.1 Lack of Training on Special Education Issues pp 34
3.5.2 Lack of special teachers to support regular teachers pp 35
3.5.3 Views of the teachers pp 37
3.5.4 Lack of cooperation among teachers,
parents and other professionals pp 39
3.6 Lack of interest from government and local authorities pp 41
3.7 Lack of early diagnosis and adequate assessment pp 43
3.8 The ‘reign’ of the special school system pp 45
3.9 Rural and sparsely populated areas pp 45


Introduction pp 47
4.1 Inclusion of the Deaf in General Education pp 47
4.2 Inclusion of Blind People pp 52
4.3 Physically Disabled People in the Mainstream pp 53


Introduction pp 55
5.1 The Need for Curriculum Adaptation and Different
Ways of Student Evaluation pp 55
5.2 Teacher Education on Children with Special Needs pp 56
5.3 Out-of-school Activities pp 58
5.4 Teamwork pp 59
5.5 Reduced class size and sufficient resources pp 60
5.6 Preparatory units and special classes pp 60
5.7 Other suggestions pp 61
5.8 An example of a successful inclusive attempt:
The Nea Smyrni project pp 62


Greek pp 66-69
English PP 70-73



Contemporary Greek society is characterized by accelerated changes in economy, policy and population, which have challenged the education system. The phenomenon of immigration and the 2004 legislation for an “education for all” have contributed to the diversity of the student population with quantitative and qualitative implications in teacher, curriculum and infrastructure demands. Owing to education’s being highly valued in Greece, in recent years this has led increasingly to a demand for an improvement in the quality of public education.
Following the steps of other countries- members of the European Community, Greece has attempted to make a turn towards more inclusive schools. This attempt began from a series of law reforms which would guarantee the solid ground for inclusion to succeed. However, what sounds realizable in theory does not guarantee success and materialization in practice: a number of major obstacles have not let the vision of inclusive schools become a reality in Greek schools yet.
Therefore, this project will not focus on the extent to which problems are common across other countries of the European Union or the existence of general solutions. It is a single country case study, even though a lot of things emerge that invite comparison. Emphasis will be laid on the review of the legislation and inclusive practices used in Greek education, in order to show the complexity and contradictions surrounding the area of special education: Although current legislation and the gradual changes in social feeling refer to an “education for all”, unfortunately provision and policy practices actually fail to include children not only with special needs but with learning difficulties of any kind. Surely, at any stage of education not to recognize talents that are obscured by any kind of disability is an unnecessary and socially unjustifiable waste of human resources, an issue of major importance to all of us.
First of all, the definition of what inclusion is will be presented in this paper, as well as its difference to mere integration; this distinction between them is vital if we opt for a better and truly inclusive Greek educational system. Inclusion will also be examined as a socio-political decision to be made by the Greek people, because “any adequate explanation of disability must entail the deconstruction of historical, political, cultural and economic factors. These combine in various ways to provide the context against which our engagement takes place” (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
We should also draw attention on the terms that will be used in this paper. Wherever a term is not politically correct according to inclusive thinking, it will be presented in single quotation marks, mainly because this means that another word could possibly be better used in its place. For example, children with special needs used to be referred to as not ‘normal’ which is a term which always differentiated and excluded them from schools and social life (Booth et al., 2000, pp 27). In some cases, double quotation marks will be used for terms and notions which are used for the first time and are original. For instance, the notion of “education for all” first presented in Salamanca’s conference.
It should also be made clear that the bibliography on issues of special education and inclusive practices in Greek mainstream schools is quite limited, since it is a rather new sector in Greece, and focuses mainly on how people with special needs are treated by other groups of society.

Chapter 1

1.1 Integration and Inclusive Education
The term “inclusive education” constitutes an attempt of release from the ineffective practices and the failure of the term “integration”, something that unfortunately has not taken place in Greece yet. “Integration” is about helping a particular category of students with severe disabilities access the mainstream in the narrow sense of placement only. However, “a good education system is not merely about offering access to what is available, but also the making of what needs to be available accessible: the molding of opportunity” (May, 2000, pp 49). The notion of inclusion does not refer to the placing or removal of a child from one context to another, nor is it related to the abandonment of children to an environment without first specific planning or resources having been made and preceded. It embraces a deeper philosophical notion of both placement and certain qualities of that placement. It refers to the process of a classroom or school becoming a supportive community whereby the needs of every student are accommodated and success is fostered for all. All children despite the type and intensity of their perceived educational, physical or psychological challenge are valued and called to contribute more fully in all the activities of everyday society (Lacey and Ouvry, 1998, pp 127).
On the other hand, inclusion is not just another name for special education but a different approach which attempts to define and analyze the difficulties found in schools. According to Booth et al. (2000) inclusion is the increase in the participation of students and the confinement of their segregation from cultural life, the curricula and the wider social activity at school. It includes the reorganization of cultural life, as well as of the policy and practices at school, in order to respond to the homogeneity of students of a particular place. Inclusion aims at the education and participation of all those vulnerable and segregated students known as people with special needs (pp 12-13).
However, “…full inclusion can provide only an illusion of support for all students, an illusion that may trick many into jumping on the bandwagon…special education is in danger of riding the bandwagon called ‘full inclusion’ to its own funeral” (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard 2000, pp 68). In other words, prevalent adoption of inclusive models will lead to deterioration in the education provided for many children with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities. The concept of inclusion is not necessarily concurrent to total mainstreaming for every child, no matter what his disability. The implicit assumption that the educational program followed by a particular child is the same for the rest of his or her peers denies the reality that for some pupils this might be wholly unrealistic (Lacey and Lomas, 1997, pp 83). For example, an autistic pupil would be impossible to access an appropriate curriculum with his ‘problems’ without any provision made first (May, 2000, pp 46). Therefore, inclusion does not refer to an “education for all” no matter what, but rather to a feasible inclusion.
For a successful educational inclusion of all children, it is essential to design new curricula under the fundamental principle of the different substance and needs of each child by providing a flexible and child-centered learning environment (Lacey and Ouvry, 1998, pp 128), considering, though, society and its demands, cultural goods and new scientific facts (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 41-42).    
1.2 The Socio-political Aspect of Inclusion
As it is stated in 1.1, for inclusion to work, society and its demands should be taken into account, because of inclusion being a political phenomenon. It refers to people’s living together, the social relationships of a person with other people and man as a social being. The practice of the dissociation of people with disabilities and the attempts made for inclusion are both political attempts. When a teacher decides for or against inclusion, when they choose a specific way of instruction, and accept a particular point of view concerning a student with special needs, they act politically (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
The decisions related to education are fundamentally political due to the governmental choices concerning the distribution of resources and the anticipation of wanted results in the context of further questionings. It is of vital importance the way in which these decisions strengthen or attempt to conserve the already existent social inequalities in terms of the access and the quality of educational experience. Hence, it is rather obvious that a child with “Down” syndrome is not disabled by this syndrome, but by the social mechanisms of evaluation and the prospects of developing his personality according to them. Someone who sits on a wheelchair because of an accident is not handicapped; his kinetic possibilities are just made more difficult. However, this person will become handicapped, because he will need to use a side entrance to the school building as the main one has not got an automated door or a corridor without stairs; the toilet door will be too narrow for the wheelchair to pass through and there will be no elevator. The construction of any handicap is a matter of social responsibility. Social views, the accessibility of buildings and our imprudence makes a person handicapped (Sehrbrock, 2000 in Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 97-98).
In most countries, official education functions as a control machinery for the access and entrance to the sovereign social layers in higher education and professions of high social value. In this way, the unavoidable social inequalities are legalized and presented as natural, justifying the low professional position as a result of a person’s personal failure connected to their low educational performance. Therefore, educational policy and practices are not neutral activities but rather socio-economic and political relations and dynamics (Carrier, 1983). In Greece, for instance, during the first half of the twentieth century, institutionalization was a political control mechanism aimed at the ‘moral correction’ of the ‘immoral’ and ‘deviant’ youngsters (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
Consequently, the present curriculum, as we will see in 3.2.1, includes concrete lawful meanings of the sovereign culture, the prevailing or central ideology and the values of the particular society, aiming at the control of knowledge, which maintains and reproduces the institutions. In the content of curricula, subjects with concrete meanings and practices are selected and incorporated, while others are neglected or excluded, maintaining the social consent
The new direction and the new objective of educational policy is the common education for all children, as far as this is for the best interest of each child. Certainly, this is a political decision too, as political choice constitutes the role and the structure of school. However, the Greek National Curriculum was originally designed without children with learning difficulties in mind (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000). Inclusion was enacted in a climate of biases and stereotyped perceptions for the infirmity: In a society which does not bear infirmity not even aesthetically; in an educational system that shaped and still shapes its services according to the needs of the market, characterized by individualism, competition, the intention of control and the absence of differentiated assessment and evaluation, and a curriculum which is common knowledge to be based upon performance and memorization (Gotovos, 1994, pp 112) school exclusion, inequality and failure are ensured not only for the children with special needs but also for those who even deviate a little from  the rules it sets (Zoniou-Sitheris, 2005, Thus, in practice equal opportunities are refuted and students are faced with discriminations and exclusion.   

Chapter 2

Traditionally, special education was thought to be a shielding space where pedagogical and learning opportunities were given freely to the particular children. However, this point of view had underestimated the negative consequences of segregation and had overvalued the abilities of the special programs for the development of these children; their breaking away from the “normal” children actually hindered their educational and psychosocial development (Kourkoutas, 2003, pp 26).
Nowadays, special education is oriented towards educational inclusion of all students. A series of international conferences, with the one in Salamanca being the most important, founded the right of co-education of all students as an attempt to fight discrimination and succeed in the target of an education for all (Liarakou, 2002, pp 104). Greece with the new Bill 2817 of 14/03/2000 designated as “Education of People with Special Educational Needs,” decided to make provision for the inclusion of children with special needs in the mainstream with the support of a special educator.
It cannot be doubted that legislation can have a significant impact on the process of overcoming disabling conditions. Yet, its analysis shows the extent to which the law has been unable to protect the rights of people with special needs and that it is not in itself sufficient to meet the vision of a barrier-free society and education provision. In practice, the legislation was not, and still is not, fully supported by the creation of the adequate infrastructure and resources that would help its implementation (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).    
2.1 Early Twentieth Century Policy
The provision of primary and secondary education for children with special educational needs is a multi-faceted new extension to education, since up until the first half of the twentieth century, the majority of disabled children, perceived as the social stigma of their families, were isolated within asylums ran by various charitable institutions mainly as inmates there or behind the closed doors of their homes (O’Hanlon, 1993, p65; Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000): In 1906 “the house of the blind” and in 1923 “the school of the deaf” were founded, while in 1937 “the model special school of Athens for children with mental disabilities” became the core of special education (Tsagaraki, 1995, pp 1).
The dominance of the private sector over the area of special education as well as the great numbers of illiterate disabled people was the result and reflection of the non-existing legislative framework to ensure the right of children with special needs to be educated. It was a period that the State had not realized its responsibilities resulting from the United Nations’ declaration with regards to human rights. The notion of education was limited to the work done at sheltered workshops wherever these existed in the institutions. The vast majority of the teachers (91%) who taught there did not have any specialized qualifications (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
Because children with special needs were perceived as the social stigma of their families, “the decision to begin the process of integrating children with special educational needs into mainstream settings did not come as a result of pressure from concerned groups of teachers or parents, but rather it was a result of legislation” (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997). Inclusion was first enacted by 1143/81 and 1566/85 laws which made provision for the integration of children with special needs in general schools through the creation of special classes (Liarakou, 2002, pp 104).

2.2 The 1143/81 Law
In 1981, it was the first time in the history of Greek education that the Parliament had voted unanimously a law for Special Education. The 1143/81 was actually the first complete law for Special Education in Greek history and was rightfully considered as a great accomplishment, because for the first time the State undertook formally their duties on people with special needs and recognized that they deserve “equal opportunities in education, social integration and preparation for the successful transfer from school to life” (Stassinos, 1991, pp 237-239). It established the creation of the Directorate of Special Education within the Ministry of Education, which was an administrative agency directly responsible for the education of disabled children. Further, this law introduced the creation of state special schools and special classes in ordinary schools- something which took place around 1984- as well as the creation of new professional disciplines such as special teachers, child psychologists, speech therapists and Special Advisers (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
Nonetheless, although this law intended to make known the issue of special education, it actually strengthened the discourse of segregation and rendered special education completely separated from the core of normal children’s education forming a dual educational system: on the one hand there were normal schools and on the other hand special schools and institutions (Ksiromeriti, 1997, pp 32). Even though the principle of integration was legally established in special schooling, the number of special kindergartens was only 10 by 1985 (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).
In addition, this act was not incorporated within any of the main Educational acts, but it referred to ‘those who deviate from the norm’. It categorized children according to their impairment, its language was insulting and politically incorrect, and some of its propositions lacked any educational rationality. For example, graduates from Departments such as Home Economics and Baby Pre-School Nursing could teach in special schools due to a shortage in special teachers. In terms of policy practice, the concept of being a special teacher was devalued as an extension of the historical devaluation of disabled children who were thought of as inferior and not worthy to be taught (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
Furthermore, the assessment and counseling of people with special needs was still under the authority of the Ministry of Health. According to 603/82 Presidential decrees, an individual was diagnosed and classified as having mental retardation by a qualified team of doctors and educators, who gave one or more standardized intelligence and adaptive skills tests individually. The results determined the educational setting that was most suitable for the student: Students with mental impairments were described as able to be educated (IQ 50-70), able to be trained (IQ 30-50) and profoundly retarded (under 30), and were accordingly classified to the appropriate school unit (

2.3 The 1566/1985 Law  
Criticism against the law 1143/81 finally led, in 1984, to the publication of the law 1566/1985, which made Special Education an integral part of general education and amalgamated the previously separate legislation into a combined law on the structure and function of primary and secondary education (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 65; Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000). In that way, the government tried to show their intention to abolish any separating lines between “normal” children and children with special educational needs, and to include them all in general schools. By 1984, the Ministry of Education had abandoned the practice of founding special schools and created special classes in general schools instead. However, according to international statistics, the number of pupils with special needs attending special classes was 3.484, which represents only 2% of the total number of children who had special educational needs (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 66).
The 1566/1985 law included other positive regulations too. For example, the transfer of all responsibilities regarding issues of resettlement of people with special needs, the creation of new branches of skilled personnel (psychologists, speech and language therapists, social workers, physiotherapists, etc.) and the creation of the Council for Special Education was exclusively allocated to the Ministry of Education (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 65). Moreover, it made provision for the teaching of a foreign language in special schools and the printing of instructive books for blind people in Braille (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 34).
Unfortunately, this law was said to be a translation of  1143/81 (Stassinos, 1991, pp 239), which did not provide a class of Special Education in the Pedagogic Institute nor post-graduate studies in Special Education for teachers at the university. On the contrary, it maintained the “ten categories of handicap” which formed the basis for the development of special schools. In fact, both laws resulted in the increased tendency of creating special schools or special classes within regular schools. For instance, while in 1983-1984 there were only seven special classes, in1992-1993 there were 602 such classes (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
Moreover, the assessment and counseling of people with special needs was once more under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health and not the Ministry of Education, perpetuating confusion in the work of counselors in general and special education (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 34). Therefore, while the Act of 1985 introduced a more specific ideology, it lacked any basic specifications and programs that would promote its implementation.

2.4 The 14.3.2000 Law: Education for All
In 1995, it was attempted to compensate for the weaknesses of law 1566 with the framing and the under-discussion publication of a law planning called “Special Education: Education of people with special educational needs” (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 34). The specific law planning was voted after five years and was published on 14th March, 2000.
In this 2817/14.3.2000 law, the terminology of Special Education is restated, emphasizing the common educational needs of people with special needs and not the causes of their problems. For the first time measures are taken for people with special needs in pre-school and for those who have completed basic obligatory education. The beginning of inclusion is impelled and special schools are intended only for children with very profound learning difficulties. Personalized programs of help and services for every child with special needs are institutionalized, as well as the function of a Centre for Diagnosis, Assessment and Support (ΚΔΑΥ), one in every province. New specialization areas for special education personnel are created like interpreters of sign language, instructors of mobility for blind individuals etc. The provision of means for modern technology teaching (multimedia, common systems of earphones, dictionaries of sign language, etc.) is ensured for people with special needs. Sign language is recognized as the official language of the hearing impaired. The department of special education is finally founded in the pedagogic institute for the scientific research of all issues of special education, such as the training of teachers of special education, curricula, means of teaching, collaboration with scientific institutions and organizations in Greece and abroad (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 35).        
Deductively, the law 28.17/14.3.2000 contains a series of positive elements which determine the institutional frame of special education with a more modern perception compared to the precedents. The most basic weakness of this law, however, is the excessive concentration of centers of diagnosis, evaluation and support in the big urban centers, which results in the inaccessible and isolated regions’ remaining exposed (Zoniou-Sideris, 2000, pp 36).  
After the later reforms, there are five kinds of school provision in Greece for children with special needs: special schools, classes in parallel, units in mainstream schools, classes of children who are integrated and centers for vocational education (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).

Chapter 3    

Nowadays, more and more Greek educators of all levels are confronted with the challenge of children with special needs without any appropriate preparation of the educational system itself and the necessary adaptations to those children’s needs. The curriculum, the classroom setting, the large number of students in a class, negative attitudes to disability, our education system’s being examination-oriented, the lack of support services, the rigid teaching methods, the assessment process being dominated by the medical model, the lack of parent involvement and of clear national policies (May, 2000, p50) have not changed. Moreover, the educators in General and even Special Education are not well informed in subjects on special education. The augmented need for those children’s education and the ineffectiveness of the Greek education system lead to negative consequences for the children themselves and their education (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003,
As a result, the planning of a new social politics for mutual acceptance and a new educational policy regarding the further education of teachers, the designing of a new curriculum and the tidying up of school spaces did not follow the enactment of inclusion with the 14.3.2000 law. The gap between theory and practice constituted the suspending factor of the evolution and improvement of the Greek education system:

3.1 The Greek Education System’s selective nature
When the Greek education system was designed, children with special needs were not taken under consideration. That is primarily the reason why the main characteristic of the Greek Educational System is centralization in relation to the law. This centralized character of the Greek educational system is represented in the National Curriculum of schools which is obligatorily used in public and private schools, as well as in the area of Special Education.
Public education in Greece is largely the responsibility of the State being fully supported and controlled by it. It is organized vertically into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. Nursery and Primary School constitute the primary education, Gymnasium and Lyceum constitute the secondary education and University and Technological Educational Institutions constitute the tertiary or higher education (Stampoltzis, Polychronopoulou and Papadopoulos,
Greek education has principally been oriented towards preparing students to enter higher institutions rather than helping them acquire marketable and practical skills. In order to be accepted in tertiary education one is required to have a Lyceum Certificate granted after 12 years of schooling and to compete in the Pan-Hellenic General Examinations at the last two years of Lyceum (Stampoltzis, Polychronopoulou and Papadopoulos,
In the Greek Education System, the progress of all students is always towards an “A” or an “F”. However, for children who face educational challenges, progress does not equate with climbing a ladder of developmental skills. There is a possibility of achievement in a vertical dimension: pupils with special needs make a lot of small steps of progress in the National Curriculum, which are not taken into account owing to current conventional assessment devices, which fail to take account of these extremely small changes in a child’s performance (Lacey and Ouvry, 1998); recording and reporting not being positive sent these pupils back to special schools or neglect them from the educational process of the regular classroom. Vlachou (1997, pp1) agrees that the ideology of the educational system in which she has worked as a teacher, was based on particularly competitive directions, on centralized instructions which operated nationally and on practices where the student should struggle for a grade “A,” which renders the personal triumph or failure. In such a system disabled students just do not belong.
It is striking fact is that a lot of students who have been placed in regular or special high-schools and lycea, have been passing one class after the other, although they lack the knowledge and experience of previous classes of primary education, with the hope just to complete the obligatory nine-year education (Tsagaraki, 1995, pp 2-3).
Hence, the Greek educational system is still a vehicle for the conservation of the established social system, thus it has a selective nature. It promotes individualism and competition, and encourages inequality and failure, not only for students with special needs, but for all those who do not conform with the rules it appoints (Liarakou, 2002, pp 105-106). People with disabilities live and are taught in the ghetto of their equals and education is provided as special and partial rather than general (Sehbrock, 2000 in Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 94).

3.2 Integration, not inclusion for all
As it is noticeable from Chapter 2 above, the Greek education system has been attentive towards the educational needs of pupils for only the last two decades. One of the basic objectives of the Greek educational policy gradually became “to seek out and develop the creative abilities and talents of all young people, to give these young people a systematic preparation for the difficult task of regenerating the country and ensuring its progress, in a responsible way, with critical understanding and, above all, as citizens equipped with adequate scientific and technical expertise (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 64).
Nonetheless, inclusion’s materialization comes up against the organization and structure of the function of school. It has already been said that the educational system has not been designed with them in mind but imposes a latent uniformity on the curriculum, syllabuses and teaching material (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000). Unfortunately, as the findings below present, children do not learn for life, they learn for school (Zoniou-Sitheris, 2005,

3.2.1 Curriculum for the few, the “normal”
Modern schools, covered behind equality and isonomy, guarantee a common curriculum and approaches for all, failing to reciprocate to the different needs of students and demanding the same things from all of them. Teaching knowledge follows a strict dissection in subjects, whose choice takes place according to academic criteria, while theoretical, objective knowledge is valued as superior to practical everyday knowledge (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003,
Research has actually shown that in practice, children with no obvious special needs remain in ordinary classes without any kind of support (Zoniou-Sitheris, 2005, In fact, 33% of the children with intellectual disabilities were treated by the same mainstream curriculum without any adaptations or specializations, while another 22.3% of their needs were not catered for at all (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003, Kourea and Phtiaka (2003, pp 142) report that the nature of the subjects taught in the mainstream seemed to affect negatively the behavior of children with special needs due to their difficulty to participate and gain knowledge without being supported; as a consequence, their classmates’ attitudes towards them and their challenging behavior were biased and negative. Special education teachers seem to agree, as 82% of them believe the curricula applied do not support the real needs of disabled students (Tsagaraki, 1995). Therefore, nobody can refer to people’s social inclusion when the educational system segregates them by making them set out from the same starting point.
It should also be noted that, although there are around 700 learning support- inclusion- classes serving a wide range of special educational needs in urban and semi-urban primary schools, in secondary education, though, no provision is made even for students with dyslexia apart from the replacement of written examinations with oral to enter higher education. Oral examinations, however, which were legally recognized only 9 years ago in 1997 -Law 2525-, do not cater for other cases of learning difficulties and disabilities (Stampoltzis, Polychronopoulou and Papadopoulos,
During the last 18 years, after the enactment of inclusion (1985-1988), only a small number of children with ‘obvious’ special needs have been integrated in general schools. Nevertheless, official records from the Ministry of Education for the specific number of integrated children with special needs in general schools do not exist (Zoniou-Sitheris, 2005, However, it is estimated by international figures that 289.000 children between the ages of 3 and 19 have special needs (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997). From them 2.3% is educated in special schools, 4% attend special classes, while 93-94% are integrated in regular classes without any kind of special provision to help them gain actual access to the National Curriculum; they are merely placed there (Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 92-93; Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).
It has also been reported that the placement in self-contained special classes is permanent, since specialized curricula do not teach the content and skills required for a child’s prospective successful participation in a regular classroom (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 67).
Therefore, for inclusion to succeed there must be a reorganization of the curriculum of schools on a new basis which will provide all students with opportunities to participate creatively and actively in the learning process and school life as far as this is possible (Drakos, 2002, pp 60-61). There must be flexibility in the schedules and curricula according the particularities of each student and the focus should be on the progress demonstrated by these pupils in terms of increased knowledge, skills and understanding. Moreover, postgraduate studies of teachers are also essential (Tsagaraki, 1995).

3.2.2 Lack of sufficient infrastructure and resources
The needs for access of the different categories of disabilities must be examined during the designing of a service and not after the designing took place. Unfortunately, in Greece we placed children with special needs in the mainstream in the name of inclusion without having made the fundamental changes required for inclusion to actually work. Consequently, there are poor conditions of a number of schools and centers and serious deficiencies in the infrastructure (Lambropoulou & Panteliadou, 2000, Stassinos, 1991 and Kouroublis, 2000). For instance, there is often no physical access to the school buildings for people who use wheelchairs (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).  
In addition, there are also no sufficient special pedagogic infrastructures and specialized educating staff for full satisfaction of those children’s educative needs (see 3.5.1 and 3.5.2 below). There is a number of problems and no financial resources to cope with them; for example, the construction of special facilities compensating for various needs, the support of research studies in special education issues (see 3.3.2), the organization of an informative campaign in order to obliterate or reduce superstitions (see 3.3.1) and the recording of all children with special needs- by age, sex, kind or severity of problem, etc.

3.2.3 The “Classroom Practice” project, 2001
In November 2001, within the framework of the “Classroom Practice” project, five experts visited primary schools in Athens with the mission to evaluate classroom practices from the standpoint of pupils with special educational needs. As far as classroom materials, seating arrangements and school atmosphere are concerned the findings were the following: school buildings were tidy and well-lit and the classrooms were of various sizes. The number of pupils in the classes ranged between 15 and 29. Almost all classrooms featured a teacher-oriented spatial arrangement with no specialist activity areas or special place for the support of those who faced learning difficulties. There were neither any special materials nor literature that could be of use for instruction and guidance relevant to pupils’ individual needs. Moreover, there were no computers or library thus the lessons were based on textbooks and notebooks. The few pupils with special educational needs were seated next to the teacher to assure the best possible support through the teacher. In other words, pupils with special needs were integrated in the mainstream classroom following the regular course of a lesson which is the same for all, built around textbooks, without any support from any other professional or any kind of helpful material in a class of 15 to 29 other pupils for whom one teacher is responsible (
Written documentation and legislation may refer to inclusion, but this is not seen in practice above, as inclusive practices are restricted to social and physical integration with the use of the same materials and curricula as with everybody else. Furthermore, the progress of the schoolwork is dictated by the demands of the class who are beyond the capabilities of students with special needs. No special teacher is present in class during the lesson and the abilities of those who have learning difficulties are never reviewed once integrated in school, thus the provision of instruction and relevant support cannot be adapted to their potential ( For this reason, the experts concluded that in Greece it is not inclusion which is being used for the education of children with special needs but rather endeavors of integration (

3.3 Stereotypes and prejudices
Research has concluded that Greek society’s attitude towards disability, people with special needs and their education is still mainly negative. There is social prejudice and ignorance as a result of the lack of sensitization and education of the Greek society for the problems and needs of disabled people. Our society is not ready or willing to accept difference and live with it (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003,

3.3.1 Lack of information
When the system categorizes and sets a label on a child, positive or negative, specific expectations and hypotheses are created which alter this child’s behavior with negative consequences for him/her. A primary deficiency sets some limitations for the child, but the secondary deficiency of social and psychological segregation is responsible for the profile of this person (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003,
In modern social conscience, the disadvantaged individuals are grouped together in a blurred category, where regardless of their disadvantage the person carries the stigma of the mentally retarded. This is the effect of society’s being misinformed or not informed at all on what special education is and who are people with special educational needs. Consequently, physical disability and learning difficulties render all these people unable to engage into social issues and are considered to be an obstacle for their substantial involvement in education. Special education is thought to be about institutionalized schools which provide a different kind of education based on pity and protection rather than the general purposes of education (Liarakou, 2002, pp 104; Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 91).
This is exemplified by the attitude of the parents of children who do not have special needs, who reject special schools and special classes in their neighborhood or in the general school (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 74). Furthermore, they do not accept the idea of children with those needs being taught alongside with their own children, since they feel this might impede their children’s progress or their children might be ‘infected’ (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997). There is still a stigma attached to notions of disability.
As a consequence of these negative beliefs and because of the fact that there is not any well-organized service to be responsible for the systematic giving of information on the services available to people with special needs and their families (Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 92), parents of children with special needs are also uncooperative and skeptical towards inclusion and refuse to enroll their children to special schools or classes. In some cases, they do not accept their child faces a problem which requires special treatment and they demand from special teachers to teach their children reading, writing, arithmetic etc. They want to feel their child is no different from other children and they lead their child to failure and segregation instead of helping him/her (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 75).
It is a fact that the 16.1% of Greek Higher Education Institutions claim to have students with dyslexia-related difficulties; however, the dyslexic students do not submit a formal assessment form thus do not enjoy special provisions. This finding demonstrates the reluctance or hesitation of people to admit they face learning difficulties owing to little understanding within the Greek Education System and society. Furthermore, only 12.5% of the same institutions reported their having a tutor to assist students with dyslexia; this finding clearly shows the lack of support provision for dyslexic students, not to mention students with more elaborate problems, and their being left alone to compete with other non-disabled students in unequal terms (Stampoltzis, Polychronopoulou and Papadopoulos,

3.3.2 Lack of research studies on special needs
What makes this situation worse is that the academic community shows weakness to further creative research, elaboration and application of programs combining experience with theory and practice (Kourkoutas, 2003, pp 27). Thus, there is lack of experience and studies on the field of Special Education -related to the specialization and efficiency of staff, etc.- and those that do exist are poorly used and need to be upgraded (Efstathiou et al., 2000, p 177-178; Drakos, 2002, pp 62).

3.4 The negative attitudes of non-disabled students
Another problem is the negative attitude of non-disabled students and their parents-as we have already mentioned in 3.3.1. In Greek schools, where the demands of the educational process and the curriculum have been identified on the basis of the normal mental and intellectual development of a child, those children who deviate from this mean have always been excluded from education. This segregation between the ‘competent’ and ‘incompetent’ created a distance among children, while children with special needs have been put on the fringe (Tzouriadou and Barbas 2003,

3.4.1 Attitudes of students of younger age
Kourea and Phtiaka (2003) in their research investigated the attitudes of children without special educational needs towards the ones who have these needs and are integrated in their schools in the name of inclusive policy. They made this research because according to international bibliography the opinions of students without special needs for their fellow students with special needs are crucial for the course of inclusion (see Gross, 1993; Hayden, 1997; Tomlinson, 1982; Phtiaka, 1996; 1997). The stance of students without special needs is not spontaneously positive, hence before inclusive practices it is vital that the student population be prepared for it in order to create a positive climate towards children with special needs (Panteliadou, 1995).
There are a number of factors which influence the attitudes of students without special needs. Firstly, their age plays a role; after the age of 7 they choose to interact with other children rather than with their classmates with special needs, because they tend to see them as younger in age (Lewis & Lewis, 1988; Vlachou, 1997). This negative attitude gets worse by the years and as a child moves on to higher classes. On the other hand, children of younger age (4-7) accept their classmates and their positive opinions get stronger with constant interaction with them (Lewis & Lewis, 1987; Gash, 1996).
Secondly, the kind and degree of the disability seem to be important in the differentiation of their opinion about children with special needs. Marked disabilities create more negative attitudes in the kindergarten or primary school, while it is the opposite as they enter the high-school where children have negative attitudes towards the children with disabilities are not that obvious thus their failure at the general school is not justified by their peers (Maras, 1993). Kourea and Phtiaka (2003) confirm the other researchers’ findings as when students with noticeable disabilities showed challenging behaviors in class like making gestures, yelling or hitting a classmate, students without special needs were tolerant or indifferent towards them. However, when children with learning disabilities like dyslexia did something similar, students without special needs got angry or reported it to the teacher.
Thirdly, when interaction takes place in a structured programme which involves co-operative learning, group work and play, then children present positive attitudes. On the contrary, when all children are left to play and interact in an unstructured way during the break, the children with special needs seem to be isolated in the schoolyard and be made fool of (Lewis & Lewis, 1987). Kourea and Phtiaka (2003) found that in subjects like mathematics that children with special needs could not perform well because of lack of in-class help by an expert. As a result they behaved challengingly and their classmates without special needs did not co-operate with them. Yet, in Gymnastics or Music where everybody was involved equally and had to co-operate with one another as part of the lesson program, children without special needs had encouraging and positive attitudes towards their students with special needs. Moreover, the researchers report that 76% of the students without special needs say they help their classmates with special needs in class and 60% of them like to sit by a child with special needs in class. However, 48% of them do not hang out with them during the break and 88% do not want to play with them outside the school environment. Therefore, Kourea and Phtiaka’s findings agree with the rest of the researchers’ mentioned above.
Fourthly, it is extremely important what opinions teachers have on the matter of special needs and their expectations of children with special needs (see 3.5.3 below). The prejudices and misinterpretations educators have for children with disabilities affect the school climate of inclusion leading it to failure. Some of their negative views are that children with special educational needs cannot come up to the demands of the mainstream school and teacher, learn less even with the help of an expert, absorb the teacher’s energy, are rejected by their peers thus it is best if they are placed with their equals etc. (Lambropoulou & Panteliadou, 1995 in Kypriotakis, 2000; Koutantos, 2000 in Kourea and Phtiaka, 2003).

3.4.2 Attitudes of students in adolescence or early adulthood
A research was made by Zafiropoulou and Roussi during the academic year 1997-1998 with the goal to compare the various opinions of candidates for higher education (ages 17-18) and students of the Pedagogic courses in nursery and primary education (ages 18 and above). Earlier researches on the same subject had concluded that the attitude towards the different is neither that flexible nor favorable (Ksiromeriti, 1996 in Zafiropoulou and Roussi, 1999, pp 134).
The findings of the research show that the majority of those asked understand the term “special education” at least to some extend, but they seem to identify special needs more with physical (78%) and mental (87.6%) disabilities. When they were asked to characterize a special student, 23% of them found his/her behavior irregular and annoying, 24% believed he/she cannot attend a mainstream school and 17.4% consider his/her outside appearance as disfigured and appalling, revealing his/her problems (Zafiropoulou and Roussi, 1999, pp 137-139). In the question of what behavior of his/hers could be said to be deviant, 54.2% of them answered that he/she displays anti-social and violent behavior, 40.4% said he/she feels happy or sad in an intense way and 91.6% believed that his/her difficulties render impossible his/her participation in the mainstream school like other children (Zafiropoulou and Roussi, 1999, pp 140).
All the findings above demonstrate that people, still are not adequately informed on issues of special education and inclusion. In fact, when the students Zafiropoulou and Roussi’s research project were asked to evaluate the degree of their knowledge concerning special education, 42% of them confessed they believe they have moderate to little knowledge (1999, pp 146).

3.5 Lack of training and support for the teachers
Inclusion means that the educator is ready to offer the appropriate and required support to his students and their families (Drakos, 2002, pp 60-61). Nevertheless, there is lack of adequate material and human resources. As Efstathiou et al. (2000) report, 95% of the teachers who participated in their research said they cannot effectively teach dyslexics, 99% noted there is no special educator either for the support of the teachers or the students, while 98% have not been educated on learning difficulties (pp 189).

3.5.1 Lack of Training on Special Education Issues
Although teachers feel inadequate and poorly-prepared to address the needs of people with learning difficulties and special needs, many of them work on the field lacking basic studies (Kypriotakis, 2000). Teachers in mainstream schools and sometimes in special schools as well, have not been trained on issues of special education and children with learning disabilities. For example, in Thessalonica’s public special schools there are 28 teachers; 3 of them studied abroad, 4 of them have taken the degree from Maraslio School of Special Education and the rest have not been educated on special needs (Zoniou- Sideris, 1998, pp 117). Panteliadou and Kotoulas (1997) also found that teachers not only lack postgraduate studies on special education but also are not familiar with issues on special education and inclusion.
Mr. Tzanakakis is the headmaster of the first high-school in Koropi, Athens and as an educator he states his concerns: “There is great distance between legislation and its application. Teachers are not to blame since nobody educated them on special needs…how can there be inclusion with building facilities and schools operating in double shifts? In my school there are 320 students from which 50 are Albanians, 20 are dyslexics and two other schools function under the same roof. Legislation cannot thus be applied” (Efstathiou et. al., 2000, pp 183).
According to Tzouriadou and Barbas (2003), 35.4% of the kindergarten teachers who participated in their research characterize as disability any aberration from the normal, while only 10.6% of them consider disability as a social construction which limits the normal function of the person. This means that the majority of them fail to conceive that disability does not determine whether a child can be educated or not, but their difficulty in facing the criteria, the boundaries and the demands our society lays on its members (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003, The findings above show teachers’ lack of knowledge on issues of special needs; it is no wonder they find it difficult to cope with the different teaching and learning styles appropriate for each individual student (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997), and in practice neither the educational framework is adapted to the needs and abilities of all children nor are there alternative ways to promote such adaptations.
Panteliadou (1995), in her research project, reported that in the question of what teachers did to cope with their integrated students’ disabilities, 22.9% answered they did nothing special to compensate for their special needs. When they were asked what are the basic problems teachers might face when a disabled child is included in the mainstream, 32.1% referred to the children’s being accepted by their peers, 20.7% talked of the disabled children’s adjustment and 15% the finding of the best teaching method to be used in class. Lack of knowledge and resources followed with a small difference. When the teachers were asked if they are qualified to teach children with special needs 89.1% said they do not possess the qualities demanded. What is astonishing is that a percentage of 52.8% believed that special educators lack the right qualifications too (pp 92-94).

3.5.2 Lack of an adequate number of special teachers to support regular teachers
According to Tzouriadou and Barbas (2003), the majority of the kindergarten teachers consider the presence of a special teacher essential, whether he teaches alone-42.4%- or in cooperation with the normal teacher-42.8%-, in order to apply the appropriate programs and methods that regular teachers lack the knowledge about. Regular teachers feel unqualified and want to repose responsibility in special instructors.
There is a shortage of specialized educators and counselors to support the child and the family, as well as general education teachers, whatever their needs, and a lack of planning of programs to ensure that the public is informed on special education and sensitized towards it (Tsagaraki, 1995; Vlachou, 2002; Tzouriadou, 2000; Lambropoulou and Panteliadou, 2000; Stassinos, 1991 and Kouroublis, 2000). Consequently, in many instances, disabled students are placed in regular classrooms with no support at all or with teachers who are willing to help but do not know how or lack the equipment and provisions to do so. For example, there are only 11 school advisors for special education in the entire Greece, of whom five have their offices in Athens making impossible for them to coordinate the work of inclusion in their vast educational areas (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 75).
External support was found to be lacking for teachers, because special schools in Greece cater for the 28% of special needs children and employ 55% of special teachers and nearly all support service personnel (Antonopoulou, 2000, In some schools, however, there were special teachers, but their offices might even be in another building, they had to prepare their own study material and their role in school was mainly to defend special-needs-students and their own work. In other schools, there were support teachers, most of who lacked special teacher’s qualification but wished to receive further education on the subject (
In 1971-72, 1.884 children with mental retardation, deaf, blind and physically disabled attended special schools under the instruction of 156 teachers, which means that 12 children with special needs corresponded to every teacher. This equivalence has not changed after two decades: in 1993-94, 13.562 students attended special kindergartens, special primary schools and special classes and 294 teachers instructed them; that is, 12 children corresponded to every teacher as in 1971. To make things worse, 3.760 students with disabilities are assisted by 129 other professionals (speech and language therapists, psychologists, social workers etc.), which means that 29 children correspond to each one of them (Tsagaraki, 1995, pp 2-3). In addition, in special schools the teachers and experts-scientists support only the children of the school they belong to organically (Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 91).
What is more, the good intentions of special educators face obstacles in bureaucratic, social and scientific problems which have not yet been solved, such as the lack of sufficient support from various specialists, for example speech and language therapists, and scientific groups or the lack of inspection, so that the special educator is certain of what he/she is doing too (Galvin and Costa, 1994 in Kourkoutas, 2003, pp 29).

3.5.3 Views of the teachers
By reason of their lack of training and knowledge on issues of special education and lack of support they get, teachers, special or not, usually hold negative opinions towards the effectiveness of an inclusive policy and method of teaching for children with special educational needs. They think of these children’s education as an additional burden which they have to solve themselves without having the appropriate infrastructures available to them or the qualifications required. The effectiveness of inclusion lies primarily on teachers’ acceptance of the policy of inclusion, as it is likely to affect their commitment to implementing it (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000). The major finding of a research on teachers’ perceptions of inclusion conducted by Tsagaraki (1995) was that 63% of the teachers asked thought that the school inclusion of all children who have special needs or learning difficulties is impossible.
Typical are also the responses of kindergarten teachers on the question of which children can actually be educated in a mainstream school: 97.1% think that children with mild behavior problems cannot be placed and get an education in the mainstream, while 65.3% of them believe that children with mental retardation can be educated there. This is so because children with behavioral problems create more problems during the lesson (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003, As a consequence, such children are removed from mainstream classes and even when they are put in special ones their needs are not met. It has actually been reported that parents of children with special needs do not see teachers as conveyors of new educational beliefs, but rather as people who express negative societal views and superstitions (Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003,
On the contrary, in Kourea and Phtiaka’s 2003 research, teachers appear to have positive attitudes towards children with special needs; all of them who participated in this project state that special attention and interest, the establishment of a particular relationship based on trust, as well as constant endeavors for their social acceptance by their peers are required to support these children. Moreover, 92.3% of them consider their co-operation with the children’s parents of major importance and 77% the co-operation with other experts. Furthermore, 84.6% of the teachers emphasize the significance of individualized teaching (pp 140).
The problems teachers reported they face in a classroom where children with and children without special needs co-exist are: 84.6% lack of time, 76.9% lack of specialized knowledge, 46.2% finding an effective teaching method, 38.5% lack of educational material, 15.4% adjustment to school environment and 7.7% lack of social acceptance by their peer classmates. The actions teachers take to gain social approval for their students with special needs by the rest of the class are: rewarding and continuous support (84.6%), giving of information to non-disabled students about the problem of their classmate (76.9%) and equal treatment of all students (61.5%) (Kourea and Phtiaka, 2003, pp 140).
Kourea and Phtiaka (2003), though, believe that these findings do not reveal the truth per se. According to Papanastasiou (1996), those who participate in such a research based on structured interviews and questionnaires tend to answer what they think should be the case and not what actually happens.
In any case, when the teacher who is the central figure in the classroom accepts the difference of a child with special needs, is willing to adapt his/her teaching and believes in the positive outcomes of this child’s inclusion in the mainstream classroom, then the possibilities of this child’s being accepted by the whole class really increase (Panteliadou, 1995).

3.5.4 Lack of cooperation among teachers, parents and other professionals
Another obstacle to successful inclusive practices is that there is no permanent or continuous collaboration among the different professionals (Lambropoulou & Panteliadou, 2000, Stassinos, 1991 and Kouroublis, 2000). For instance, fraught with difficulties is the change of role of special educators from working directly with children with special needs to working with and supporting other teachers with such children in their classes. This collaborative relationship is particularly problematic due to the limited time for contact, lack of impersonal skills on behalf of support teachers (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000) and the negative attitude displayed towards special teachers by many regular class teachers (O’Hanlon 1993, pp 74). Vlachou-Balafouti and Zoniou-Sideris (2000) approached an ordinary pre-school teacher to introduce her to an inclusion project and her response was: “I prefer to teach two classes together instead of teaching less ordinary children plus a disabled child with the help of a special teacher” (Tsagaraki, 1995). Therefore, it is important that the responsibilities of the special teacher be made clear so that problems in the cooperation with mainstream teacher cease to exist.
As far as the parent- professional partnership is concerned, even though it can be very advantageous for the child, it often presents potential sources of conflict and stress: the professionals have received training and experience in the nature of handicapping conditions thus have the objectivity to highlight important areas that an involved parent could not identify. On the other hand, the parents who invest the largest amount of time and effort for their child, best understand the child’s needs, interests and frustrations. As a result, parents’ and professionals’ perspectives differ on who should make the best decisions for the child (Dale, 1996). What is more, parents complain about the lack of continuity in service delivery and the fact that so many and varied professionals are involved whose roles are poorly coordinated and their responsibilities are so unclear, as we have seen above. What makes things worse is that professionals cannot understand and cooperate fully with the parents because their own views are negative and prejudiced against disabled students, having a profound negative effect on the relationship between them and the parents (see 3.5.3).  Despite all the problems of this relationship mentioned, 99% of the teachers asked believe and parents’ cooperation is imperative as well as school and community’s cooperation (96%) (Tsagaraki, 1995). An important factor for this relationship to work is the existence of experienced specialized staff that is willing to cooperate cordially with parents and keep an open mind on issues of special educational needs (Drakos, 2002, pp 60-61).

3.6 Lack of interest from government and local authorities
Unfortunately, the first official efforts to include children with special needs in the Greek general school are made mainly by volunteer teachers in special and general education. Individuals that hold staff places in the Ministry of Education lack scientific knowledge on special education. Consequently, their weakness to engrave directions and to support scientifically the tens of teachers that had and have all the good will to correspond in this new challenge is obvious. The inclusion of children with special needs in general school presupposes theoretical and practical knowledge and directions for all the “different” children, both the majority’s and each minority’s (Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 46).
Panteliadou and Kotoulas (1997) published a report of a piloting program applied in a special school in Thessalonica sharing the building with a regular school. This program was part of a European competition related to HELIOS II concerning inclusion and how it could be promoted. It was the first time an inclusive attempt was made in the area and the school, and the majority of the inhabitants were not aware of the existence of a special school in their region. A pupil with mental retardation was chosen to be integrated in the regular classroom. She knew how to write the letters and small syllables while reading was tiring and she found difficult to understand what she was reading. With the appropriate support by a psychologist, a social worker, her teacher and her mother, she managed to be part of the class, learn important things for her daily life and actually enjoy it. Although this endeavor was recognized by HELIOS II, the Ministry of Education did not show any kind of interest to support or learn information about the program, restricting any further materialization of it. Therefore, even if there is willingness to include children with special needs in the mainstream, in practice the applications of this concept are cul-de-sac (pp 136-143).
There is a climate of distrust between educators and government as far as the interests and aims of each part are concerned, with that emphasis on the competition among schools through examinations, charts of categorization and controls, which limit the possibility and interest for cooperation and good relations among schools (Barton, 2000). Moreover, teachers and educational researchers hold that local authorities are not interested in strategies such as early intervention and integration due to their excessive cost to be implemented: “The current educational policy, rooted in economic competition and personal choice is not sympathetic to social integration and as a result, the integration of disabled children, young people and adults into schools and society receives less priority” (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000). The more challenging individual needs are, too costly they are in time, money and effort for them to attempt to meet them (Lacey and Lomas, 1997). Imagine the cost of creating an adequate number of centers which provide all the services needed to support children with special needs- physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, ergo-therapy, psychological support, legal advice for parents etc- in the rural regions of the country, where there are not enough in correspondence to the number of students with special needs (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).
It is, consequently, equally vital that those who manage the educational system and anything relevant to it be determined and willing to include children with special needs in the mainstream schools and social life (Kourea and Phtiaka, 2003).

3.7 Lack of early diagnosis and adequate assessment
The success of including children with special needs in mainstream schools depends primarily on when this inclusion starts being applied: if early diagnosis of the difficulties of these children and prompt application of appropriate means of support take place during the preschool age, then there are positive perspectives. Co-existence and inclusion does not mean opening of the school to all children without exception, because this would create a lot of problems (Drakos, 2002, pp 60-61).
As far as the assessment of pupils is concerned, until recently this was made in Public Hospitals and Centers for Medical Health, with long waiting lists for appointments, especially for pupils at the secondary education. In 2000, the first Centers for Diagnosis, Assessment and Support under the control of the Ministry of Education were established in order to provide better services to school children. However, the centers are not fully staffed with specialized personnel and it is still the psychiatrist or psychologist who makes the diagnosis mostly through psychometric tests like the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III) (Stampoltzis, Polychronopoulou and Papadopoulos,, as few assessment tests are currently available and used (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997)..
A big problem is the lack of a common policy regarding the advice given to parents by diagnostic centers, which are one in every region (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997). Characteristic is the fact that disabled and gifted children are often placed together in special schools (Chronopoulou, 2001, pp 57-58).That’s why 61% of the teachers in special education consider the procedure of the diagnostic evaluation as ineffective (Tsagaraki, 1995). In fact, in the third Pan-Hellenic Scientific Conference of Special Education on June 2000, it was reported that 87% of the teachers who participated in a research questioned diagnosis and certificates given by legitimate centers and stated this process is useless for the support of the students (Efstathiou et. al., 2000, pp 189).
In addition, the diagnostic team visits a regular school in order to assess and decide if a particular child’s needs would be better met in a special school whenever a regular teacher initiates a referral. If the teacher does not do so, a child remains in the mainstream condemned to fail. However, when the diagnostic team does visit the regular school, it is during working hours, which means the special school in which they work remains without its scientific staff (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 75).
Moreover, once children with special needs are placed in a special school, there is no periodic review procedure in order to ascertain their suitability for reintegration into a mainstream school, which means that once placed in special education children with special needs stay there permanently. Little or no opportunity to return and participate fully in the regular education program is offered (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997; O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 74).
3.8 The ‘reign’ of the special school system
What’s more, little has been done for the reduction of the number of special schools due to the ill-development of the special school system and the skepticism concerning the integration of moderately and severely disabled students as part of the inclusive policy (Antonopoulou, 2000, In 1984 there were 7 special classes, while in 1999 there were more than 700; there are also 200 special schools for children and adolescents with special needs. Most of them serve children in primary education as only few of them offer educational services to students of teenage years (Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 91). What is more, when students reach 17 years of age, the students with special needs leave special school or special class and return to their homes without any social or professional mainstreaming (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 75).

3.9 Rural and sparsely populated areas
The physical geography of the country with its mountainous areas and its excessive coastline and hundreds of islands give rise to particular problems in the care and education of disabled children. A strong centralization of services has led to the creation of privileged-urban and non-privileged-rural areas. In rural and sparsely populated areas in Greece, a number of schools of general-regular schools function with only some places, a fact that does not justify the foundation of a special class for the one or two pupils with learning difficulties. Therefore, those children are relegated to special schools even if the kilometrical distances are thought to be pedagogically prohibitive and deleterious for them (Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 92). Thus, the quality of educational response to the child is largely dependent on the opportunities provided by the family’s financial and geographical situation. Therefore, the official definition of inclusion remains at the level of mere integration-mainstream placement (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
Sometimes, other problems occur along with the absence of special schools or classes in rural areas and children with special needs seem not to belong anywhere: Mary is a now seventeen years old. Her hearing is severely impaired, she is mentally deficient and she displays several behavioral disorders. She was forced to leave her hometown of an Aegean island to come to the capital of Athens where her needs might be catered for. Unfortunately, her hopes were let down: she went to a special school for deaf children which invoked the law according to which children with multiple disabilities cannot be placed there, in order not to accept her application to register. On the other hand, the special school for mentally disabled students could not accept her because Mary used sign language to communicate (Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 268)

Chapter 4

In this chapter three examples of failing inclusive practices will be presented. As we have seen, inclusive practices in Greece are actually a myth for a number reasons and obstacles analyzed in chapter 3. Therefore, in chapter 4, stereotypes and prejudices in the mainstream inclusive classes, a lack of appropriate infrastructures, a lack of interest from the part of the government or authorities, etc. will be exemplified and clarified through recorded incidences of bad practice given below.

4.1 Inclusion of the Deaf in General Education    
The cultural identity of a specific society forges and shapes the educational system each society provides to its members. Appropriate education means an education which takes into consideration the cultural peculiarities of the social group in which it is applied. From a research concerning the education of 408 children with hearing difficulties/disabilities, in 1989, it was found that the educational placement of deaf and hearing impaired children took place in an arbitrary way without any planning or valid criteria: 37.7% of them were being educated in ordinary schools with little or no support at all, 33.3% were educated in schools or classes for deaf children, while 7.4% were in other special schools together with mentally disabled children and 21.6% were not provided any type of education (Vlachou-Balafouti & Zoniou-Sideris, 2000).
The population of deaf people is rather diverse and this diversity should be taken into account for their inclusion in the mainstream to work. All deaf people fall between two pole categories, that is the deaf by birth whose parents are deaf themselves and those who lost their hearing in an old age and their parents are not deaf. Between these categories other sub-categories exist: there is a difference in age and the kind of hearing impairment, in their immediate environment may be other family members or friends facing similar hearing problems, and there may be developed some kind of phonemic language. It is clear that the education provided cannot be common for all these sub-categories of deaf people, yet they should be educated according to their capabilities and needs in a special school, in a special class of a general school or solely in a general school. Deaf people should be placed in a general school only if the making of this choice guarantees the viability of its results (Papaspyrou, 2000 in Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 174).
Some factors like the inadequate psycho-emotional development of a deaf child, his difficulty to adjust in the society of a general school class, the reluctance from the part of the educators and the rest of the students to accept this child in their general class, affect negatively the process of inclusion, even if the child can write and somehow communicate in the phonemic language. The special class in a general school seems like a viable solution, the golden mean in this particular situation. However, this solution should be considered with caution because it may not contribute to the child’s inclusion but rather his/her segregation (Papaspyrou, 2000 in Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 204-205).
Lambropoulou (2006) in her research compared deaf students’ experiences of special and mainstream schools from their own perspective. All of her subjects had attended schools of general-mainstream education along with non-deaf students for more than 6 years, while the majority of them had also attended special schools for deaf students for 2 to 6 years. Those who had attended both kinds of schools described the differences, in other words the positive and negative aspects of each school environment.
The results of this research can be summarized in that for the deaf students the educational choices are limited. General schools do not provide them with the appropriate infrastructure, support and sensitivity. The curriculum was not adapted to their needs in order to be included in the lesson. There were no special provisions for them and no special teachers to support them. The mainstream teachers treated them with pity, indifference or even with hostility: “My non-deaf teachers felt pity for my being in their class. During the break they tried to say a few words, to show me, but of course they communicated only the 10%; the 100% was for the non-deaf students in class”; “When my teacher was sitting on his desk I could understand some things, but when he walked towards the back of the class I did not understand anything, nor my fellow students when they talked” and “I told my teacher if he could speak a little louder, but he answered that if I could not listen I should go to my special school” is some evidence of the educators’ negative attitudes towards them (Lambropoulou, 2006). These negative attitudes can change if they are constantly informed, trained, supported and in contact with people with special needs.
Deaf students felt isolated and as intruders in the mainstream schools: “Most students…did not know how to communicate, they were afraid and did not pay attention to me”, “They did not come near me”, “I felt all alone, insecure and had lost contact with the environment”, “I did not like the way they looked at me and talked with each other rather secretly”, “There was some kind of prejudice; if someone hang out with me they said to him how he could keep company with me”. Some times they were confronted with really traumatic experiences: “I was a good basketball player; when I won they called me names such as ‘deaf-dumb’”, “In primary school they used to hit my hearing-aid”, “I remember an incident when some children broke my hearing-aid. I was hit and the teacher instead of punishing those children suspended me…They sent me home, a 12 year old child without a chaperone, without a hearing-aid, hurt, crying, completely lost”, “Sometimes even teachers hit me in the ears” (Lambropoulou, 2006).
Deaf students also had minimum participation in class: “In the morning at school I was not attentive; I had magazines and newspapers under my desk since I could not watch the lesson…The worst of all was that I saw the teacher avoiding me and never asking me anything” (Lambropoulou, 2006).
They also had to find other ways in order to succeed in school courses: “Because I was so tired of watching the teacher with my eyes, I was forced to study too much at home…with the help of my father”. Some of the students were made to go to a special school for deaf students in order to graduate from high-school (Lambropoulou, 2006).
Some of the subjects had attended special schools for non-hearing people for some time from 2 to 6 years. All the things the students mentioned as drawbacks of the mainstream schools were actually the advantages of the special ones. Social interaction and opportunities for communication and friendship development were the first positive aspect highlighted by all of them: “when I left and went to the school of the hearing people, I missed communication…in the institution I felt like home because I hang out with children who have the same problem and we understand each other”. Another positive remark is that the system of the special school helps deaf students get an identity and social conscience: “I am deaf, I am not ashamed, and I say it to other non-deaf people, while before I was ashamed to say I have a problem” (Lambropoulou, 2006).
However, all the students were critical towards the educational level provided in special schools, which they consider rather limited: “The school of the deaf is far behind in knowledge”. A big problem is that the teachers are not much aware of sign language so the material they offer is limited thus they do a lot of useless revision: “The teachers taught me few things orally, without sign language”, “The teachers do not know the sign language well so they do the same things. The children are bored”. Moreover, the school population in special schools was not homogeneous: “In the school I went, there were advanced, retarded, deaf, hard-of-hearing students all together in the same class. Every student who understood the lesson had to wait for 2 to 3 days, until the other students who did not understand it learnt the material” (Lambropoulou, 2006).
As it is obvious from the results of the research above, neither the integration of deaf people in the mainstream schools nor their placement in the special schools offers a complete solution in favor of deaf students. The last few years, special classes in mainstream schools have been created, but it is a new institution in Greece and there are no graduate deaf students who can offer significant information on the effectiveness of this provision. Furthermore, these special classes and even special schools are not available for all students with special needs throughout Greece: “Because there was no Junior high-school for deaf students in my area, when I finished the special primary school, I went to the mainstream school by my house…Of course there I was faced with a lot of difficulties because the subjects there were a lot different, a lot of material to learn, hard” (Lambropoulou, 2006).
4.2 Inclusion of Blind People
“The Greek educational system insists that students use their residual vision so that the sensory motor abilities may be reinforced and delays or losses in orientation, mobility, communication, cognitive and/or social development may be prevented” ( Blind and partially sighted students attend Special Education schools at the primary level of education and mainstream schools at the secondary level of education, where there is no differentiation or special provision for them; they all follow the common core educational curricula. According to Mariolas (2000), who has experienced general education as a blind student, being part of a general class cannot be thought of as an example of inclusion due to the lack of appropriate conditions and educational means.
Legislation promoting the educational integration of young children with disabilities is not in itself sufficient; it is imperative legislation be accompanied by practical approaches and examples of good practice. Unfortunately, in Greece, although legislation has indeed enacted laws for the inclusion of children with disabilities in the mainstream, in practice their inclusion is not a fact:
What is quite unforeseen is the fact that BRAILLE is not recognized as the official way of writing for the blind people by the Greek state. According to the regulation of the United Nations for the equalization of opportunities for people with disabilities and the article 21 of the constitution, the State must act for blind people’s equal access to information services and books. In Greece, although BRAILLE is taught from the beginning of the 20th century when the House of the Blind in Kallithea was established and it has been accepted as the only way of reading and writing for blind people, unfortunately it has not been recognized officially, depriving them of equal opportunities in education, vocational rehabilitation and their social life in general (Macedonian News Agency 2005,

4.3 Physically Disabled People in the Mainstream
Students with motor impaired/ orthopedic disabilities attend special education schools; however, the curricula used are the common core curricula of primary and secondary education, even though a high percentage of the students fail to keep up. Furthermore, they spend fewer hours in following curricula not fully adapted to cover their needs as teachers have not been appropriately trained to do so (    
Kynthia Nikolaou is a physically disabled and with speech problems student of secondary education. She describes her integration in the general school as follows: Other children were afraid of and annoyed by a student who moves and talks differently. They hesitated to approach her because they did not know how to treat her so they put her on the side or became aggressive and unfair towards her. “I was isolated by my classmates, since I could not participate in their games and my difficulty to understand speech put further barriers to this relationship…I was not accepted; I was different” (Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, p 257-259). They even challenged her to race them in running making her problem seem huge for no reason (Zoniou- Sideris, 2000b, pp 76).
When her problems and limitations were being considered by the teachers, her fellow students reacted. Due to these experiences, she wanted to show everybody that she did not pursue nor accepted any kind of favorable treatment. So, in the school final examinations, while Kynthia was getting ready to be orally examined in composition, a teacher approached her, saw the subject she would be tested on and started to develop it to her. Kynthia was so upset and hurt that she refused to be tested on it and took a low grade. However, she won the respect of her classmates (Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 257-259).
She also mentions the insufficient infrastructure: the toilets on the basements with inappropriate sanitary articles, the lack of a lift and the uncountable stairs which make her think how people who are in a wheelchair move around. In the classroom, she believes that other children would accept her and it would be better for everybody if the teachers explained her limitations to other students and that any special treatment of her had only to do with these specific problems of her. As for her teachers, she would expect equal treatment in things not related to her deficiencies, like being punished if she is late to class or if she displays poor behavior in class. This would be the only way for her to feel she is a student like everyone else and for her classmates to respect her and not to consider her as different. Moreover, she would appreciate her being given equal opportunities, for example, more time for the written examinations since she cannot write fast enough, and the possibility and time to develop her thoughts when she is being orally tested, since she does not speak fast. Of course, she expects to be evaluated on the same terms with the rest of her classmates, because as she faces the particular learning difficulties, some other children in class might face family, economical or health problems (Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 262-264).

Chapter 5

In chapter 4, three examples of failing inclusive practices were presented, displaying all the obstacles and reasons why inclusion has not worked so far in Greece. In this chapter, some suggestions will be made on how inclusion could become a reality for all these students with special needs who deserve equal opportunities to be educated. In the end of the chapter, an example of inclusive practice that incorporated these suggestions and succeeded to include rather to merely place a child in the regular classroom will be given, so that the fact that when there is a will there is a way is emphasized.

5.1 The Need for Curriculum Adaptation and Different Ways of Student Evaluation
If we presume that equal educational opportunities means that all children during an academic year should be taught specific instructive material of equal length and in the same way, then it would not be a surprise that some children show extreme behavior or cannot perform according to the standards of school records. However, different ways of life need different ways of instruction and coping with the problems, adapted to the demands of everyone’s life. For instance, in a class of twenty pupils, some children feel the need to communicate and seek language communication while others do not speak much; some may be able to read while for others might take years to make it, not to mention that all children have different personalities.
As a result, education should not be relied theoretically and practically on the same positions and ways. Equality in education for all students denotes the acceptance of difference among them, whether this has to do with the social level of the family, the various techniques employed in order to respond to their school or every day responsibilities, or their needs. Their differences should mould shared classes with mutual balance, equality and respect (Sehbrock, 2000 in Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 90-93). Furthermore, “comprehensive planning for these children must include consideration of programs along a complete continuum so that every child will be able to attain his or her maximum educational, social and vocational potential” (O’Hanlon, 1993, pp 67).

5.2 Teacher Education on Children with Special Needs
The ways by which the educators organize their classes, take decisions, define their relationship with the students, adopt specific theoretical approaches and practices are all factors that can support the process of inclusion or subvert it supporting segregation. Therefore it is important teachers get proper education on special needs, they will become more sensitive towards students with such needs which could in turn contribute greatly to a change of thinking regarding not only these children’s education but also negative societal beliefs.
Towards this direction and within the Operational Plan “Education and Initial Vocational Training” of the second European Community Support Framework, primary school teachers attend a two-year training course on Special Education for the first time, and the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs also designed training programs on Special Education for secondary education teachers implemented by universities (; Tzouriadou and Barbas, 2003,
Moreover, teachers appointed to their first post in the public sector have to go through a series of theoretical and practical training sessions. In addition, there are different categories of programs of various lengths, content, forms (based in school or out-of-school, during or after school hours) and attendance status (compulsory or optional) for the professional development of teachers. Nevertheless, there are important policy concerns about the quality and co-ordination of teacher induction programs and in-service education, as many of these programs lack a systematic evaluation of their effectiveness, and many different in-service education programs have not been satisfactorily coordinated. These concerns led to the latest establishment of a new organization, “The Organization of In-Service Training of Teachers” (OEPEK), to coordinate and upgrade in-service education (Stylianidou, Bagakis and Stamovlasis, 2004). This could be the solution to the lack of basic knowledge of teachers on special needs and how children with these needs can be included in the mainstream.
One of the reforms that have recently been introduced in the Greek educational system is the introduction of a new teacher recruitment system. Teacher selection has been one of the main teacher policy concerns of the last decade in Greece. It takes place centrally and hence allows a high degree of control over the number and quality of teachers appointed to the profession. The combination of an oversupply of competent teachers, primarily of the secondary school level with overall high teacher retention in schools has challenged policy makers to find a way to opt for the most able for appointment. As a result, this major reform in the teacher recruitment and selection system was first introduced in 1997 and has recently come into full effect, changing the way of entry to the teaching profession from one based on the precedence of candidate teachers in a national candidate list to one based on their performance in written assessments of their subject and pedagogic knowledge.
Nonetheless, the new system of recruitment has received objections by teacher unions which argue the validity and reliability of this written assessment (Stylianidou, Bagakis and Stamovlasis, 2004). A good suggestion would be teachers to be assessed during practice along with written examinations of their knowledge. Moreover, it would be helpful if they were examined on a course on special needs, and later on in practice of how well they support and teach children with these needs.    

5.3 Out-of-school Activities
Outdoor education is of significant importance, because outdoor activities have proved to have a positive effect on students with educational needs like mental retardation, behavioral problems etc. as they offer opportunities for real-life experiences and interactions with other people in the community without special needs.  These activities take them away from the classroom, a place they relate to their school failure; they enrich the curriculum, maximize their understanding of concepts, motivate and increase school enjoyment as in these activities they cannot fail and get disappointed. They promote autonomy, independence and self-confidence by allowing each student’s personal skills and capabilities to develop (Liarakou, 2002, pp 108-109).
“PERIVOLAKI” is a model therapeutic unit founded in 1983 for children of three to fourteen years of age with early psychic disorders, i.e. general disorders in development and autism. Socialization includes children’s going out in different places near “PERIVOLAKI” on a weekly basis. For instance, they go to other schools, to McDonald’s, to the shops or playground, to museums or to the theater. Furthermore, children are taken to the gym for kinesitherapy and exercise with the help of experienced staff on children with special needs, as well as to a music therapist’s once a week (Panopoulou-Maratou, 2000 in Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 143-144).
Unfortunately, even though the Greek State recognizes the value of Out-of-school activities, it puts restrictions on them: Primary schools have up to 9 day outings a year and on optional basis 2 hours per week for extra-curricula or off-site activities (Antonopoulou, 2000,

5.4 Teamwork
There are many aspects of team-working which can have negative consequences on the effectiveness of practice during challenging situations. Although virtually everyone acknowledges this, it can be truly difficult to achieve good team work. It is one of those areas where all of our personal human weaknesses are likely to become barriers to achieving communal human strength (Hewett, 1998).
People who have special expertise like speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, nurses, and the parents and friends of the person can be very helpful in our understanding this person’s feelings and promoting well-being, contentment or happiness (see 3.5.4). It is vital that we follow any advice, recommendations or guidelines and put it into practice so as to prevent challenging behaviors in particular situations (Lally, 2002). Therefore, all parents and teachers should feel welcome, valued and necessary by being able to work jointly with other parents, teachers and professionals. Everyone brings knowledge, expertise and differing perspectives resulting in a combination of ideas being greater than the sum of the parts (Lacey and Ouvry, 1998).    

5.5 Reduced class size and sufficient resources
71% of the teachers warn that inclusion will not be facilitated unless class size is reduced and sufficient resources are available to support inclusion (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000, pp 79). By insufficient resources we refer to the lack of resources and space, for example, the fact that may not be a chair to support a child with physical and motor disabilities or a ramp for his wheelchair. As for class size, no teacher can teach effectively a class of 25 students nor can he/she support a child with severe learning difficulties under these conditions. If the main reason for which a child with special needs is placed in a special school is his/her non-adaptation to the surroundings of a regular school, why should he/she return to the mainstream if nothing has changed in it? (Pappanikou, 1997; in Polychronopoulou, 1999, pp 89)

5.6 Preparatory units and special classes
For some children with developmental or other disorders, inclusion in a normal class of the general school is utopic and often unfavorable for their education and development of their potential, as there is a lack of long-lasting and special interventions responding to  the children’s and their families’ needs. These children cannot be integrated in the general school right from the start; this would put them in the margin (Zoniou- Sideri 2000, p142). “PERIVOLAKI,” earlier mentioned, prepares those children who could potentially be included in the mainstream, in order to ensure their success once placed there. If places like this and special classes of this kind are created and encouraged to support children with a lot of potential but with need of guidance, only miracles can happen: From the children who graduated form “PERIVOLAKI” 30% of them managed to be included in the general school. From the 15 children who went to the general school, 5 of them finished junior high-school, 2 of them graduated from senior high-school and only one continued furthering his studies. The rest are still in primary school (Panopoulou-Maratou, 2000 in Zoniou- Sideris, 2000, pp 149).

5.7 Other suggestions
For inclusion to be effective rather than damaging, inclusive practices need to embrace the following recommendations: First, the extent to which students with learning disabilities make adequate academic and social progress in ordinary classes should be utilized as the major criterion for considering alternative interventions, as opposed to insisting on mainstream class placement no matter what the difficulties and the progress of a child. Full inclusion is not the only alternative (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000).
Second, maybe teachers should be allowed to choose whether or not they will be involved in teaching inclusive classes. Forcing all teachers to do so, regardless of their attitudes towards inclusion and their expertise in special education issues, hinders the prospective effectiveness of the inclusive attempts made (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000).
Third, a policy of inclusion should not be imposed on schools. Schools should be encouraged to develop inclusive practices tailored to the needs of the students, parents and communities they serve, involving everyone in discussion. An agreed philosophy and policy on inclusion should be established first to provide guidance to everyone involved (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000).
Finally, ongoing professional development should be made available to all school staff who require it, as well as the development of alternative teaching strategies and means of adapting the curriculum to the specific needs of students with a wide range of ability (Hornby, Atkinson and Howard, 2000).

5.8 An example of a successful inclusive attempt: The Nea Smyrni project
Having all of the above suggestions in mind, in 1994, a pilot program of a blind child’s integration in an ‘ordinary’ kindergarten in Nea Smyrni in Athens began by a team of specialists-a psychologist, a speech and language therapist, a special kindergarten teacher and a social worker- collaborating together and trying to introduce ways of implementing the legislation. They took under consideration the theory of the “sensitive phases” in early childhood when aspects of the child’s development are molded and affect the child’s future life, thus the earliest children with special needs are stimulated, the furthest their development and integration to school and social life will be (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).
The blind child selected displayed an ability to function in an ordinary school environment. The goals set were developing a quality school environment, good teaching practices and relevant materials, as well as evaluation of the program regarding reactions and attitudes of all those involved, financial and infrastructure considerations and the development of educational policy and procedures. The project lasted for 5 years and the subject-girl was assessed in the psychokinetic, intellectual and social fields. The program began after a year’s preparatory work involving consultation with the community, the local authority, the teachers of the school, the parents of non-special needs students and the girl’s parents, the children in the kindergarten and the girl herself in order to make everyone understand and accept the difference of the blind girl in comparison to the rest of the kindergarten pupils (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).
There were the following criteria: The school should be near her house and it should be physically accessible to her. Moreover, the right teacher should be found; he/she should be interested in the program, willing to cooperate with the other professionals and he/she should be aware of issues of people with special needs. Lack of funding was a problem-the Ministry of education funded the specialist teacher, the university covered all expenses and the team of experts participated voluntarily (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997).
The results of the evaluation of the program after 5 years supported its effectiveness. As far as the blind pupil is concerned, she established friendships even beyond the borders of the school environment and felt free to express her feelings in a variety of ways. Gradually she became autonomous in moving within the school environment feeling self-sufficient and independent. She also followed the kindergarten’s curriculum without difficulty when teaching methods were adapted to her needs and she particularly enjoyed peer group work. Her imagination improved through painting, music and drama. The parents of non-special needs students reacted negatively at first, but the results of a questionnaire distributed to them during the second year of the program showed positive feelings and admiration for the girl’s abilities. The teachers of the school were originally hesitant, but because they were supported and guided on what to do, they got involved and then supported and developed the program. Finally, authorities in charge of relevant institutions were persuaded of the necessity and positive effects of inclusion (Zoniou-Sitheris, 1997). Unfortunately, that was the only positive example of inclusive practices in Greek bibliography I encountered during my research.


Inclusion is legally a reality, a human right which needs the support of all of us. In order to operationalize the conceptual definition of inclusion one has to give it a practical dimension:
“The success of inclusive education depends upon it being viewed as part of a system, which extends from the classroom to broader society. Its success depends on what goes on day-to-day, minute-by-minute in classrooms and playgrounds. It depends on teachers who, in turn, depend on the leadership of educational administrators at national and local levels. Ultimately, it depends on the vision of legislators to pass the necessary laws and provide the appropriate resources” (May, 2000, pp51).
Society has the duty to accept and prepare the return of these people who for whatever reasons had been segregated. My findings indicate that in Greece neither the legislation so far nor the structures that exist particularly help for this inclusion.  Therefore, a gradual redirection of resources and effort, after careful planning, is required in order to shift the status quo towards ways of working with and for people with special needs. Inclusion may hide a lot of challenges but my opinion is that the goal of an “education for all” is far more important for us to hesitate before the impermanent difficulties like “Does inclusion work?” What we should ask ourselves is what hinders the effectiveness of inclusion and what needs to be done in order to overcome these obstacles.

Greek Bibliography (my translation)

Chronopoulou, A. (2001) Special Education: The Mirror of Society. Modern Education Journal, 121, pp 57-58.

Drakos, G. (2002) Modern Issues in Special Pedagogies: Concerns, Pursuits and Perspectives. Athens: Atrapos, pp 60-62.

Efstathiou, M., Klidopoulou, A. & Vourvoulis, G. (eds.) (2000) Programs of Studies on School Units of Special Education. Athens: Atrapos, pp 177-178, 183, 189.

Gotovos, A. (1994) Pedagogic Interaction. Athens: Gutenberg, pp 112.

Kourea, L. & Phtiaka, H. (2003) The Attitudes of Students without Special Needs Towards their Integrated in the General School Classmates with Special Needs. New Education Journal, 107, pp 133-146.

Kourkoutas, I. (2003) Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in the Classroom. Educational Community Journal, 65, pp 26-33.

Kouroublis, P. (2000) The Right to Difference: The Effects of Social Prejudice and Institutional Intervention on the Life of People with Special Needs. In Kourkoutas, I. Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in the Classroom. Educational Community Journal, 65, pp 26-33.

Koutantos, D. (2000) An Appropriate Pre-school Framework for Children with Residual Vision. New Education Journal, 96, pp 137-148. In Kourea, L. & Phtiaka, H. The Attitudes of Students without Special Needs Towards their Integrated in the General School Classmates with Special Needs. New Education Journal, 107, pp 133-146.

Ksiromeriti, A. (1996) Cross-temporal Analysis of the Attitudes of Students Towards People with Special Needs. Presentation in the 5th Panhellenic Conference of Psychology Research. Patras. In Zafiropoulou, M. & Roussi, C. (1999) Special Education: Pilot Exploration of Senior High-school and University Students’ Opinions. New Education Journal, 91, pp 133-150.

Ksiromeriti, A. (1997) Special Education: Theoretical Principles-Research Data and Intervention. Patras: University of Patras, pp 32.

Kypriotakis, A. (ed.) (2000) Proceedings of Conference on Special Education. Rethymno.

Lambropoulou, V. (2006) Deaf students’ Opinions and Experiences for their Studies in Special and Mainstream Schools [Website]. Available from: <> [Accessed: 27 May 2006].

Lambropoulou, V. & Panteliadou, S. (2000) Special Education in Greece. In Kypriotakis, A. (ed.) Proceedings of Conference on Special Education. Rethymno.

Liarakou, G. (2002) Environmental Education: A Tool for the Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in General Education. Modern Education Journal, 124, pp104-110.

Macedonian News Agency (2005) No recognition of Braille by the State [Website]. Available from: <> [Accessed: 27 May 2006].

Mariolas, I. (2000) Necessity or not for the Inclusion of Blind Children in the General School? In Zoniou-Sideris, A. (ed.) Inclusion: Utopia or Reality?: The Educational and Political Aspect of the Inclusion of Students with Special Needs. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 249-255.

Panopoulou-Maratou, O. (2000) Children with Disorders in Development and Inclusion. In Zoniou-Sideris, A. (ed.) Inclusion: Utopia or Reality?: The Educational and Political Aspect of the Inclusion of Students with Special Needs. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 141-151.

Panteliadou, S. (1995) The Place of Children with Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Classes: A Research Approach. Modern Education Journal, 82-83, pp 90-96.

Panteliadou, S. & Kotoulas, V. (1997) School Inclusion of People with Special Educational Needs: A Suggestion. Modern Education Journal, 96-97, pp136-145.

Papanastasiou, K. (1996) Methodology of Educational Research. Nicosia: Theopress Ltd. In Kourea, L. & Phtiaka, H. (2003) The Attitudes of Students without Special Needs Towards their Integrated in the General School Classmates with Special Needs. New Education Journal, 107, pp 133-146.

Papaspyrou, C. (2000) Inclusion of Deaf People in General Education: Resolution of the Language Problem. In Zoniou-Sideris, A. (ed.) (2000) Inclusion: Utopia or Reality?: The Educational and Political Aspect of the Inclusion of Students with Special Needs. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 169-212.

Pappanikou, J. (1977) Mainstreaming Emotionally Disturbed Children. In Polychronopoulou, S. (1999) The Educational and Social Politics of the Ministry of Education for the Provision of Services of Special Education to Children with Special Needs. New Education Journal, 90, pp 87-103.    

Polychronopoulou, S. (1999) The Educational and Social Politics of the Ministry of Education for the Provision of Services of Special Education to Children with Special Needs. New Education Journal, 90, pp 87-103.

Stassinos, D. (1991) Special Education in Greece: Perspectives, Institutions and Practices. State and Private Initiative (1906-1989). Athens: Gutenberg, pp 237-239.

Tsagaraki, J. (1995) The Structure of Special Education Today: Educational Research. Unpublished PhD dissertation. Pedagogic Institute, Primary Education Sector.

Tzouriadou, M. (2000) Children with Special Needs in the Frame of Life: The Social Construction of Handicap. In Kypriotakis, A. (ed.) Proceedings of Conference on Special Education. Rethymno.

Tzouriadou, M. & Barbas, G. (2003) Children with Special Needs in the Nursery School: Kindergarten Teachers’ Views [Website]. Available from: <> [Accessed: 27 May 2006].

Zafiropoulou, M. & Roussi, C. (1999) Special Education: Pilot Exploration of Senior High-school and University Students’ Opinions. New Education Journal, 91, pp 133-150.

Zoniou-Sideris, A. (1998) Handicapped People and their Education. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 117, 202-203.

Zoniou-Sideris, A. (ed.) (2000) Inclusion: Utopia or Reality? The Educational and Political Aspect of the Inclusion of Students with Special Needs. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 32-38, 41-42, 46, 52, 257-259, 262-264, 268.

Zoniou-Sideris, A. (ed.) (2000b) People with Special Needs and their Inclusion. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 76.

Zoniou-Sideris, A. (2005) Inclusion of People with Special Needs and the Curricula [Website]. Available from: <> [Accessed: 27 May 2006].

English Bibliography

Antonopoulou, K. (2000) Out-of-School Learning for Children with Special Educational Needs in Greece [Website]. Available from: <> [Accessed: 27 May 2006].

Barton, L. (2000) The Politics of Inclusion. In Zoniou-Sideris, A. (ed.) Inclusion: Utopia or Reality? The Educational and Political Aspect of the Inclusion of Students with Special Needs. Athens: Greek Letters, pp 57-70.

Booth, T., Ainscow, M., Black-Hawkins, K., Vaughan, M. & Shaw, L. (2000) Index for Inclusion: Developing Learning and Participation in Schools. Bristol: Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education (CSIE), pp 12-13, 27.

Carrier, J. (1983) Masking the Social in Educational Knowledge: The Case of Learning Disability Theory. American Journal of Sociology, 8-5, pp 948-974.

Dale, N. (1996) Working with the Families of Children with Special Needs. London: Routledge.

Emerson, E., McGill, P. & Mansell, J. (1994) Severe Learning Disabilities and Challenging Behaviours: Designing High Quality Services. London: Chapman and Hall.

European Agency (2001) Expert Meeting in Athens, Greece [Website]. Available from: <> [Accessed: 14 December 2002].

Galvin, P. & Costa, P. (1994). Building Better Behaved Eggective Support at the Whole-School Level. In Kourkoutas, I. (2003) Inclusion of Children with Special Needs in the Classroom. Educational Community Journal, 65, pp 26-33.

Gash, H. (1996) Changing Attitudes Towards Children with Special Needs. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 11(3), pp 357-366.

Gross, J. (1993) Special Educational Needs in the Primary School: A Practical Guide. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Hayden, C. (1997) Children Excluded from Primary School: Debates, Evidence, Responses. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Hornby, G., Atkinson, M. & Howard, J. (2000) Controversial Issues in Special Education. London: David Fulton, pp 68, 79.

Lacey, P. & Lomas, J. (1997) Support Services and the Curriculum: A Practical Guide to Collaboration. London: David Fulton, pp 83.

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