Integration

Very different tasks on my agenda this week. Yesterday began with a breakfast meeting between President Komorowski and the Swedish MP Björn von Sydow – former Speaker and former Minister of Defence as well. In both capacities he was a colleague to the present Polish President, and it was a great experience to see them together. And to once again experience the closeness in our Polish-Swedish relations.

The context was the following: A group of MP:s from the Standing Committee for Constitutional Affairs in the Swedish Parliament visited Poland for two days to study constitutional aspects on EU integration.  Björn von Sydow was one of them. And the visit clearly an indication of the increasing attention given to Poland in Stockholm – Poland as an increasingly important actor on the European scene.

Today a very different but equally encouraging experience: A new visit to the Raoul Wallenberg school here in Warsaw. New because I attended their 20th Aniversary and Lucia celebration late December last year as well.

This is a school that was founded twenty years ago, based on the fundamental idea of integration. First and foremost of disabled children into ordinary classes – an integration that I saw numerous examples of and illustration to during my visit this morning. But it was quite fascinating also to hear the staff talk about the background to the decision to make  Raoul Wallenberg the patron for the school.

The idea was to found a school with a profile of integration in its broadest sense. And since they had that ambition the Swedish diplomat that saved tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest during the last months of the Second World War became the patron of their choice. And his legacy is continously present in the education, that was quite clear.

Now they have 420 students out of which around ninety are disabled. Different kinds of tools, support and therapy are available. Including one extra staff member in each class where disabled students are integrated, perhaps 3-5 disabled students in a class of 20.

What was most encouraging? Definitely the atmosphere so clearly characterised by warmth, openness and creativity. But also the insights communicated that so much has changed to the better during the twenty years that have passed since the school was founded – and the twenty plus years since the fall of communism. In the early 90′s disabled children were regarded as a sensation when they started to appear in society after having been kept at home before. And some comments heard at that time were quite nasty. Now things have been changing for the better. As one teacher said – when disabled children come out from their homes and into the world, then the world must change.

Disabled students entering higher education trigger changes. That has clearly been seen.

Additionally, the results of the school have been very good. Both for disabled and non-disabled.

I have had many inspiring experiences this week for sure. I would rank the visit to the Raoul Wallenberg school very high among them. 

 


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