A delegation of five experts from the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia visited Seattle University March 31 to learn more about the Center for Change in Transition Services (CCTS). The international visitors were on a cross-country tour of the U.S. to visit selected schools and universities to learn how to improve disability services for students in their country.
CCTS Principal Investigator Cinda Johnson, associate professor of special education at the College of Education, and Director Sue Ann Bube, a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program, met with the delegation. The group traveled around the world to learn more about CCTS, a grant-funded project that is designed to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. Located in the College of Education, the Center provides resources and support services to all Washington State stakeholders, including special education teachers, directors, students, and their families.
"Transition programs don't exist in our country," explained Ekaterine Lejava, deputy head of the National Curriculum Department at the Ministry of Education and Science. The Georgia educators said they want to expand educational opportunities for students with disabilities, a program that is still in its infancy.
Inclusive education, which allows students with disabilities to attend public schools, only began five years ago in Georgia (it became federal law in the U.S. in the 1970s). Before that, students with disabilities stayed home. "We had generations of families who were ashamed of their children," Lejava said.
Today, students with disabilities in Georgia must attend school between the ages of six and 18. "It is now required in every public school," Lejava said. Vocational programs for students who are not college bound began last year. She estimated that 3,000 of the country's 700,000 students are enrolled in special education programs.
The team from the Ministry of Education and Science hope to expand their existing programs, using what they learned on their U.S. visit. Of particular interest to the group were the types of support given to students with disabilities, including Individual Education Program (IEP) teams in U.S. high schools, disability services at the college level, and educational programs for parents.
The team from Georgia's Ministry of Education and Science included Lejava; Mariam Chikobaba, head of the National Curriculum Division; Ekaterine Dgebuadze, head of inclusive Education Development Division; Tamar Zhghenti, senior specialist in Inclusive Education Development Division; and Ana Zurabashvili, a member of the multidisciplinary team.
To learn more about the Center for Change in Transition Services, visit http://www.seattleu.edu/ccts.