Montenegro has taken a significant step forward towards fostering systems-based inclusive practices in education and sports by becoming the world’s first inaugural member of the Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion to ratify its commitment at a momentous signing ceremony in the capital city of Podgorica.
The European nation has pledged to expand inclusive sports and education opportunities to 550 newly-trained teachers, and 3,000 youth, including 1,500 with and without intellectual disabilities participating in Unified Sports across 60 new Unified Schools over the next three years. The government of Montenegro plans to invest over EUR 200,000 of domestic financing, as well as ongoing technical cooperation and training in schools across the country.
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President & Managing Director David Evangelista said, “We gathered in Podgorica to witness a truly historic moment as Montenegro becomes the first inaugural member of the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion to ratify its commitment to this ambitious project.
“Montenegro's ratification heralds a new era of inclusive education and sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities. By joining this pioneering multilateral effort, Montenegro demonstrates its dedication to creating a more inclusive society where everyone has equal opportunities that empowers and enhances the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“I commend Montenegro for its leadership and vision. By embracing inclusive development, Montenegro sets an inspiring example for nations around the world. Their commitment to the Coalition is a testament to its unwavering dedication to promoting inclusive education and sports. By joining forces with Special Olympics and the development community, Montenegro is leading the way in driving systemic change on a global scale.
"I would like to express my gratitude to Montenegro's Minister of Education Miodrag Vojinovic, Minister of Sports Vasilije Lalošević, State Secretary of the Ministry of Education Milijana Vukotic Jelusic, and Juan Santander, UNICEF Montenegro Country Representative and the entire UNICEF Montenegro team. Their remarkable support has been instrumental in bringing this vision to life.
“I also extend my heartfelt thanks to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) for their invaluable support in empowering the movement of Special Olympics to bring this Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion to life.
“Together, we can create a future where every person, regardless of their abilities, has the opportunity to participate, learn, and succeed.”
Montenegro Minister of Education Miodrag Vojinovic added, "This is an exceptional honor for the Ministry of Education and I want to once again express my gratitude to our international friends and especially to note that all this would have not happened if it were not for the representatives of Special Olympics Montenegro.
“Thanks to them, these activities have already been carried out in 15 schools and according to what we have planned in the coming period, through the process of inclusion, through sports, over 60 more schools will be involved within the territory of our country.
“We also have strong support from the UNICEF Montenegro office and I feel genuinely privileged and pleased for our country.”
The Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion is a pioneering multilateral effort to support people with intellectual disabilities. For the first time, governments, industry, philanthropy and the development community have come together with a shared global commitment to increase inclusive practices in education and sport and create more inclusive schools and communities. Over the next three years, Coalition members have committed to expanding inclusive sports and education opportunities to over 2,000,000 young people in more than 150,000 schools and scaling Special Olympics programming to 180 nations.
Inaugural government Coalition members include: the Arab Republic of Egypt, His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar, Jamaica, Mongolia, Montenegro, the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Ghana, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Iceland, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Panama, the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of Seychelles and the United Arab Emirates.
The Coalition, funded by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), also includes key global and civic stakeholders including the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN Refugee Agency (UN- HCR), Lions Clubs International Foundation, Fondation Botnar and textile brand H&M Move.
While many education systems have made strides to achieve integrated educational settings, the reality for many children with intellectual disabilities is that they continue to be marginalized and isolated. These disparities also negatively impact students without intellectual disabilities. Inclusive learning environments help all students.
More information on the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion.
More information on the Special Olympics Global Leadership Coalition for Inclusion’s inaugural member countries.