In Lower Saxony, Germany, children with Down syndrome are
mostly being cared for in special kindergartens, schools for mentally
handicapped or day-care and educational centres run by
In these institutions of "Lebenshilfe" or similar organizations the
handicapped children are put together in small groups. Good care, supervision
and advancement is guaranteed through special pedagogical professionals.
The children are collected from and brought back to their homes.
Additional care in the afternoon is possible.
Schools for mentally handicapped
Starting point and goal of all efforts in special schooling is
the concrete and real life situation on every student experiences.
In turning their attention towards life itself, coping with it and
forming it as real life situations, students and teachers find their
This refers to the life-span of each individual and
its meaning underlining the seriousness and dedication of educational
work inside and outside school.
In terms of didactic and methodology schools for mentally handicapped
are defined as a multi-dimensional offer of experience, learning, and
practice imbedded in comprehensible and life-important situations.
Making oneself understood and communicate with others this
school regards as one of the primary goals for its students. Verbal and non-verbal
forms of communication are rated equally, even if they are practiced
differently among people. The ability to establish relationships and communicate
with others can only be achieved in the long term by those who
"have something to say". So the goal and result of life-oriented work with
mentally handicapped at school is that those students are able to say more and more.
Learning as an outstanding characteristic of human beings enables them to establish
contact to their environment and other humans. In schools for mentally handicapped
learning is neither an instrument to judge students in comparison to others nor
classify them or put them in categories.
The way of learning mirrors the degree
and the individual shade of relationship each persons has established in
and towards his environment.
Day-care and educational centres of "Lebenshilfe"
In many areas of Lower Saxony day-care and educational centres exist.
Here the local groups of "Lebenshilfe" offer educational programs.
These acknowledged day-care and educational centres belonging to "Lebenshilfe"
are semi stationary institutions for adequate schooling and education of mentally handicapped
children and adolescents. This form of schooling is regarded as a measure of integration
based on § 39 ff and § 100 BSHG. The centres´ educational program is based on NSG § 162 ff
and the decree regulating the work with mentally handicapped in schools by the minister
for education and cultural affairs in Lower Saxony. Admission after § 45 SGB VIII is
required for these institutions and they are subject to inspection after § 46.
The acknowledged day-care and educational centres of "Lebenshilfe" have the same
goals for their supportive measures and the same subject matter as special schools
for mentally handicapped. Specific characteristics of schooling, education, support
and accompanying offers of acknowledged day-care and educational centres are among
others a guaranteed all-day availability, intensive support based on the principles
of entirety and individualisation and continuous cooperation with parents as an
expansion of their acting competence.
Principally, "Lebenshilfe" acknowledges the capability in educational development
and learning of all handicapped children and adolescents. According to this there
is no lower limitation to this capability of development. General educational goal
of their work is to make it possible for these children and adolescents to live
in our community.
As mentally handicapped students can follow compulsory education in these
centres and Lower Saxony fulfils its obligation to guarantee the constitutional
right of education this way, the different educational institutions
(special schools, integration classes) have to be brought to the same standards.
This is pre-eminent with regard to the educational task, the method of
working and the choice of personnel.
Schooling in these centres is going to be affected by major changes. The extension
of school-time to 12 years has made the introduction of a final class possible.
In the meantime the employment of qualified personnel guarantees the substantial
pre-conditions for qualified schooling in the centres.
Some "Lebenshilfe" centres already try to leave the limitations of their institutions
to reach a form of cooperation between the local primary schools and "Lebenshilfe" groups
in the existing schools themselves. Thus situations of contact with non-handicapped
students are created, which include breaks between classes and commonly planned and
realised project work.
A very positive form of cooperation has been established between the "Lebenshilfe" in
Verden and the primary school at the Lönsweg in Verden.