Key speakers at the Conference

Filomena Pereira

Director of the Department of Special Needs Education, Directorate-General of Education of the Ministry of Education, Portugal
Filomena is an experienced expert in the field of inclusive education. Currently, she works as the Director of the Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education Unit at the Ministry of Education. She has extensive teaching experience and is recognized for her collaboration with institutions in the design and implementation of specialized teacher training courses. She provides consultations for UNICEF and the World Bank in the area of inclusive education. She represents the Ministry of Education in various EU working groups and is a member of the Council of Representatives of the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education.

Hester Hulpia

Hester Hulpia

Centre for Innovation in the Early Years, Ghent, Belgium
Hester, a senior researcher at VBJK, Centre for Innovation in the Early Years, specializes in the quality of early childhood education and care (ECEC). She participated in the development of the pedagogical framework, a baseline study on the quality of ECEC (0-3 years) in Flanders. Internationally, she was also involved in a study examining the quality of ECEC in Georgia and the effectiveness of ECEC use in preventing early school leaving. Her expertise also extends to integrated working in services for young children (publication "Huizen van het Kind", international project INTESYS, Erasmus+ project). She is recognized as one of the 10 most published scholars on leadership models in educational research.

Judith Hollenweger Haskell

University of Zürich, Switzerland
Judith graduated in education and psychology. She is a professor of Diversity and Education at the Zurich University of Teacher Education. She operates in Switzerland but also deals with international issues related to diversity in educational systems. She chairs the EDK recognition commission for pedagogic-therapeutic teaching professions and is a member of the WHO Functioning and Disability Reference Group for the further development of the International Classification of Functionality, Disability and Health (ICF). She is an expert for various international organizations including UNICEF, WHO, the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, the Council of Europe, World Bank.

Európska agentúra pre rozvoj špeciálneho a inkluzívneho vzdelávania

Mary Kyriazopolou

European Agency for Inclusive Education and Special Needs, Greece
Mary has a PhD in inclusion. She is actively involved in social policy and research on the education, training and socio-economic inclusion of people with SEN and/or disabilities and other vulnerable groups. Mary has been working as a Project Manager for the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education since 1999. She worked as an expert on the socio-economic inclusion of people with disabilities for the European Commission's expert group on the Community Action Program for Equal Opportunities of Disabled People in Europe (1987 – 1998).

jana bavolarova

Jana Bavoľárová

Headmaster Primary School, Budimír, Slovakia
Jana is the director of the M. R. Štefánik Kindergarten and Primary School in Budimír, where she leads a fantastic team of people. One of the priorities of her team is promoting inclusive strategies, which they try to integrate into the educational process, but above all, they try to live them in everyday life. Quality interpersonal relations, trust, and building a community are their key values.

Monika Fričová

Platform of Families of children with disabilities, Slovakia
Monika is one of the founding members of the Platform of Families. She has been active in the community of people with disabilities since 1994. Since 2021, she has been leading the Platform of Families, promoting the rights of children with disabilities in the field of early intervention, and is a lay advisor.

Ivelina Borisova

Regional ECD Advisor, UNICEF ECARO
Ivelina is UNICEF’s Early Childhood Development Advisor (ECD) for the Europe and Central Asia Region. In this role she leads the regional strategy and program priorities on early childhood development across the region. Prior to this, Ms. Borisova was UNICEF’s global lead in the area of early childhood education and care (ECEC), responsible for global strategy development, advocacy and partnerships in the area of ECEC, aimed at achieving equitable access to quality pre-primary education by 2030.

Martina Běťáková

Deputy State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic
Martina has been working at the ministry since 2019, and as part of the strategy and analysis department, she participated in the creation of the Czech Republic 2030+ Education Policy Strategy. She also stood at the birth of the so-called Middle Point of Support, where she utilized her experience from practice, local government and studies. In the past, she worked as a teacher, deputy director of a primary school and manager of a private primary school. She also worked as the deputy mayor of the village of Psáry, where she was in charge of education and non-formal education and an establishment of a new modern school for the 21st century

Bjorn Martens

Project manager, Childcare department of the city of Ghent, Belgium
Bjorn works as a projects manager for the Childcare department of the city of Ghent – Belgium. The city, as local authority, takes up a directing role for the Ghent childcare sector, and as an organiser of public childcare they employ over 900 childcare professionals. As a former manager in several childcare centres, his ECEC experience has both feet in the daily practise of childcare and the life of children and their families. In his current job he developed a broad view on ECEC research, policy and strategies from a municipalities point of view. Starting from his 15 years of experience in the sector, Bjorn will talk you through the 'Ghent approach', a municipality that has prioritised high-quality childcare for more than 40 years.

Matej Sapák

Coordinator for Refugee Response, Ministry of Education, Slovakia
Matej is a project manager at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport of the Slovak Republic responsible for coordinating the Ministry's activities supporting the temporary protection beneficiary children from Ukraine. Prior to his current engagement at the Ministry, he was the principal of an international boarding high school in Bratislava and co-authored the Minerva II knowledge economy strategy for the Slovak republic at the Ministries of Education and Finance.  He will talk about the current status of the Ministry of Education's efforts to support and integrate temporary protection beneficiary children into the Slovak education system.

Paula Santos

Professor at the University of Aveiro, Department of Education and Psychology at the University of Aveiro, Portugal
Professor at the Department of Education and Psychology at the University of Aveiro, Portugal; Member of the Board of the National (Portuguese) Association for ECI, http://anip.net/; Member of EURLYAID, http://www.eurlyaid.eu/. Vice-Director of the Doctoral Program in Education | Coordinator of the specialization area in Diversity and Inclusive Education. Researcher and co-coordinator of the CIDTFF [the Research Centre for Didactics and Technology in the Training of Trainers, https://www.ua.pt/cidtff/home. In the field of ECI, worked as home visitor, supervisor, trainer, coordinator (representing the University of Aveiro), and researcher. Coordinates several research projects in the field of ECI and is co-author of the Guidebook for ECI Professionals “Recommended Practices in ECI”, as well as of several papers in scientific journals. Main scientific interests: Inclusive Education; Early Childhood Intervention (ECI); Early Childhood Education; Digital Technology and Competence

Kálmán Petőcz

Director General of Inclusive Education and National Minorities, MoE, SR
In the past, Kálmán served as Ambassador of Slovakia at the United Nations in Geneva (1999-2005) and also held several positions in the public service, including the position of Director General of the Human Rights Department of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Human Rights and Minorities (2010-2012). He has also been actively engaged in the third sector, he worked with the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Academia Istropolitana Nova, Human Rights Olympics, Forum Minority Research Institute, the Roundtable of Hungarians in Slovakia, the Márai Sándor Foundation and the Slovak Foreign Policy Association. Between 2013 – 2020 he held the position of the Vice-chairperson of the Governmental Council for Human Rights, National Minorities and Gender Equality representing the civil society. Kálmán is still in touch with students, currently he is a part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Economic Sciences of the Comenius University. He has also a publication record, focusing mainly on human rights and minority rights, but he is also active as a translator.

Eva Pupíková

Professional Development Teacher (Preschool Pedagogy), NIVAM
After finishing her undergraduate training, Eva went through several job positions, from the position of teacher, kindergarten director to the position of professional development teacher for pre-primary education, where she works until today. She collaborated on several projects related to the professional development of kindergarten teachers. In the last year, She has been participating in the implementation of project activities in the project Support for emigrants from Ukraine in education. This project is implemented jointly by NIVAM and UNICEF. As part of the project, the innovative education program Supporting a child with individual characteristics was created, of which she is the guarantor and co-author. The primary theme of all activities related to the project is the introduction of inclusive principles in pre-primary education. The main topic of Eva's presentation will be the naming of the key requirement for the implementation of the teacher's professional development from the perspective of the teacher's personality in relation to inclusive principles in education and training.

Regina De Dominicis

Regional Director UNICEF ECARO
Regina is UNICEF’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, based in Geneva, Switzerland. In her role, Regina also serves as UNICEF Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Response in Europe. She took up her functions in July 2023. Prior to this assignment, Regina was UNICEF’s Representative in the Republic of Türkiye, where she led UNICEF’s largest programme in the Europe and Central Asia region. During her career spanning over 25 years, she has also held several other senior positions within UNICEF, including Representative to the Republic of Serbia, Representative to the Kingdom of Morocco, and Deputy Representative to the Republic of Türkiye.

Svetlana Síthová

Director of department of support for formal education (NIVAM)
Svetlana is an expert in inclusive education, a special pedagogue, and has been working with children with various special educational needs for a long time. She worked as a special pedagogue in a counseling facility, a regular special elementary school, as well as the state secretary of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sports for inclusive, lifelong and national education. He currently manages the Department of Support for Formal Education at the National Institute of Education and Youth.

Gautam Rana

Ambassador of the United States of America to Slovakia
Gautam Rana arrived in Slovakia on September 14, 2022. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Rana previously served as the Deputy Chief of Mission and long-term Chargé d’Affaires ad interim at the Embassies of the United States in Algeria and Slovenia.  He also served as a Director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the National Security Council (NSC) from 2014-2015.  Prior to the NSC, he was the Deputy Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the American Embassy in New Delhi, India.  From 2009-2010, Ambassador Rana worked for Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg as Special Assistant for South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and counterterrorism.  Prior to joining the Deputy Secretary’s staff, he was the Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried.  His overseas diplomatic postings also include Khost, Afghanistan; Peshawar, Pakistan; and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Katarína Vančíková

Faculty of Education, Matej Bel University
Since 2001, Katarína has been working at the Department of Elementary and Preschool Pedagogy at the Faculty of Education of the Matej Bel University in Banská Bystrica. She has devoted her entire career to the training of kindergarten and primary school teachers. In her scientific work, she mainly deals with issues of equal opportunities in education with an emphasis on identifying obstacles to the availability of quality education for the most vulnerable groups of children. As a professional consultant and analyst, she closely cooperates with the non-governmental sector, as well as directly managed organizations of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Science of the Slovak Republic. She was a member of expert teams of several national projects through which inclusive measures were introduced into schools. She is the co-author of the Report on the inclusion of Roma in early childhood education and care in the Slovak Republic RECI +, within which she analyzed the current problems of the availability of educational services for the most vulnerable group of poor Roma children. In 2017-2020, she was a member of the To dá rozum think tank of the Center for Economic and Social Analyzes MESA10, the output of which was an analysis of the findings on the state of education in Slovakia and a comprehensive draft of recommendations for its improvement. As a member of several expert groups, she participates in the implementation of the reform within the resilience recovery plan. She currently works as a lecturer and expert consultant within the Open Schools project, which is part of UNICEF's humanitarian assistance to support Ukrainian refugee children.

Nataša Jović

Inclusive Education Consultant, UNICEF Serbia
Natasa is a graduate lawyer with LLM in Child Rights and LLM in Education Policies, with over 20 years of experience in children’s rights, rights of persons with disabilities, human rights, and gender equality. She has extensive experience in inclusive education, antidiscrimination and prevention and protection of children from violence. Currently, she is UNICEF Consultant on Inclusive Education, Antidiscrimination and Prevention of Violence, working on enhancement of inclusive education in Serbia.

Marina Starčević Cviko

Education Officer, UNICEF Serbia
Marina is a graduate social worker with 20 years of experience in the implementation of the projects related to education with the focus on the prevention of violence and promotion of gender equality, anti-discrimination and inclusive education. Currently, she is Education Officer in UNICEF, working on enhancement of inclusive education in Serbia.

Ján Hero

Sekcia národnostného a inkluzívneho vzdelávania, Ministerstvo školstva SR
Ján Hero is working at the Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic, in Department for National Minority and Inclusive Education, Used to work as the Plenipotentiary of Slovak Government for Roma Community in years 2021-2023. Before taking this position, he used to work at Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovak Republic as the senior adviser to the State Secretary and general director for national minority education and long-life education. For almost 10 years, he worked in the non-governmental organization "Through Children to the Family" focused on the inclusion of Roma in society. He was the director of a primary school, primary art school and grammar school. He also worked as a Romani language teacher.  Since 2000 to 2010 he was member of MG-S-ROM – Council of Europe Group of Specialists on Roma, Gypsies and Travellers, since 2010 to 2020 he was member of Ad hoc Committee of Experts on Roma and Traveller Issues (CAHROM) by Council of Europe and since 2020 member of ADI-ROM Committee on Roma and Travellers issues, in years 2022-2023 was elected as chair of the committee. Since 2018, he has been a member of the Slovak IHRA delegation, working in Education Working Group and in Committee of Roma Genocide. Nominated for chair of this committee for 2025 at the Plenary meeting in Dubrovnik in June 2023.

Maria Yankova

Education Specialist and representatives of UNICEF Bulgaria and MoES Bulgaria
Maria Yankova is Education Specialist at UNICEF. The focus of her work is on the development of policies and program interventions in support of the inclusion of children from vulnerable groups in quality pre-school and school education. She has led projects to promote literacy among vulnerable communities, inclusion of children with special needs by introducing innovations, prevention of violence and bullying at school, etc. Maria has previous experience in developing entrepreneurship, financial literacy and start-up programmes. Maria has PhD from the University of National and World Economy.

Lalo Kamenov

Director of Center to the Ministry of Education and Science for educational integration of children and students from ethnic minorities, Bulgaria
The center was established by Council of Ministers in 2005 to support the implementation of government policies regarding the educational needs of children and students from ethnic minorities. In the past Lalo Kamenov has been Vice chair of the National commission for protection against discrimination, expert in the National Council on ethnic and demographic issues, expert at Strategic policies Directorate to the Ministry of Education and Science, deputy mayor. Lalo has a PhD from Sofia University in sociology, anthropology, and cultural studies.

Maida Pasic

Maida Pasic

Regional Education Advisor, UNICEF Europe and Central Asia, Switzerland

Vladimír Šucha

Head of European Commission's Representation in Slovakia, Slovakia

Michaela Bauer

Emergency coordinator, UNICEF Slovakia RRO

Katerina Mavrou

Associate Professor, Inclusive Education & Assistive Technology, European University Cyprus

Stanislav Daniel

Porticus, Slovensko

Maria Bezáková

Riaditeľka Základnej školy Škultétyho, Topoľčany

Simona Šimková

Director of CVI Košice, Slovakia

záverečná konferencia o inkluzívnom vzdelávaní