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2nd Workshop
Training of Teachers of the Visually Impaired in Europe

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14. Co-operation with the European Agency for development in Special Needs Education

The preparatory committee of the workshop searched for ways to guarantee the continuation of the process of sharing and creating knowledge on a European level after the workshop had ended. For this purpose the European Agency was approached again (a first contact was already established shortly after the first workshop in 1997). This led to the invitation of the director of the Agency, Mr Jorgen Greve, one of the project managers, Mrs Amanda Watkins and one of the working partners, Mr Sip Jan Pijl, to the second part of the workshop to inform the participants about the Agency's identity and activities and to discuss how the Agency and ICEVI Europe could co-operate to continue the above-mentioned process.

What is this Agency and what does it stand for?

The Agency is an independent, self-governing institute with a European Representative Board, a secretariat and a network of national contact people - called Working Partners - in each of the participating countries. Each board member is nominated by the Ministry of Education of the participating countries. Director of the secretariat: Jorgen Greve. Participating countries: all EU countries together with Iceland and Norway.

The organisational structure looks as follows:

Representative Board
Consists of one member from each participating country, nominated by its Ministry of Education.

Management Board
Consists of 5 tot 6 members elected from and by the Representative Board.


National Co-ordinators
In each country a national co-ordinator puts the objective of the Board into practice in co-operation with the Secretariat.

The main objective of the Agency is to establish a permanent framework for extended European co-operation in the field of special needs education.

The Agency was founded in November 1996, initially for a term of three years. After the Launching Conference in September 1999 in Stockholm it was decided that the 17 countries involved will continue their financial support which, in fact, means official recognition of the Agency as an independent and self-governing institution.

The Agency's objectives include:

Most important themes so far:

The most important forms of communication are:

We, the preparatory committee, thought that an organisation with the above objectives and methods would be an excellent partner for realising our own goals. Especially co-operation with regard to a website focussing on education of visually impaired pupils in general and on training of teachers of these pupils in particular.
On both sides (the participants of the workshop and the representatives of the Agency) the idea of co-operation was judged positively. The participants of the workshop consider co-operation with a professional organisation as a guarantee for continuation, something that tends to be endangered with an organisation consisting of volunteers only.

It is decided that both parties will explore and prepare the possibilities for formal co-operation in their own organisations. The Agency will make preparations for opening a website. ICEVI will develop proposals with regard to the content of this site for which purpose a study group will be set up.
An action plan as well as a division of tasks (who will be responsible for what) will be made in mutual consultation. The aim is to complete the first phase before the European conference in July 2000.

(In the meantime the first meeting of the ICEVI study group has taken place and negotiations with the Agency have started).

The European Agency for Development in Special needs Education on Internet: http://www.european-agency.org [new window]

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