Þroskaþjálfanám og starf á tímamótum?


  • Guðrún V. Stefánsdóttir


In the past decade there have been changes in emphasis when it comes to matters relating to disabled people, calling for reflection and debate on the role of the social pedagogue. In recent years, three main issues have been in the forefront of these changes. Firstly, in January 2011 services for disabled people moved from the central government to municipal level, leading to changes in the work of social pedagogues. This meant that social pedagogues moved from a highly specialised professional environment, for instance in sheltered homes for people with intellectual disabilities, to more general social work for social service centres which now organise services for disabled people. Secondly, Iceland signed the UN Convention on the right of persons with disabilities from 2007. Even though the convention has not yet been ratified, professionals such as social pedagogues need to re-evaluate their work on the basis of the treaty and their education needs to be adapted. Thirdly, the law regarding disabled people stipulates that by the end of 2014 personal assistance or user control services should constitute some of the main forms of support for disabled people. The main objective of this set of Perspectives' articles is to examine how these changes affect the education and work of social pedagogues. Guðrún V. Stefánsdóttir, editor, writes an introduction where she briefly highlights developments in issues regarding disabled people and the education and work of social pedagogues. The next article by Friðrik Sigurðsson considers the changes that have taken place in social services directed towards disabled people and their effect on the role of the social pedagogue. Helga Baldvinsdóttir Bjargardóttir discusses the human rights of disabled people and the role of the social pedagogue and, finally, Auður Finnbogadóttir relates her experience as a social pedagogue in personal assistance services. The articles reflect a changed emphasis in matters regarding disabled people in the legal environment relating to the human rights treaty which is based on the demands of disabled people for increased rights and equality. This calls for a change in the approach of professionals such as the social pedagogues. The education of social pedagogues today well reflects the ideology of human rights and the right to independence where the role of professionals is mainly seen as the removing of obstacles in the environment to create a system for disabled people to become full participants in all spheres of society. Furthermore, the role of the social pedagogue is not least seen as guarding the rights of disabled people. Concepts used in this debate and in the education of social pedagogues reflect this development. Notions such as support and personal assistance, protecting rights and rights-based approaches have replaced concepts that were dominant earlier, such as upbringing, training, minding and caring. Now it is not considered appropriate to speak of disabled people as clients as they are increasingly the employers of social pedagogues and other professionals. The editor hopes that the articles will shed light on the position of education for social pedagogues and their work and indicate the direction in which they should develop in the near future. The articles should stimulate discussion and reflection on the education of social pedagogues.