December 7, the Center for Innovative Educational Technologies “PNU EcoSystem” of our university hosted an open lecture for students of the Faculty of Pedagogy by the invited Doctor of Humanities (the University of Silesia in Katowice, Republic of Poland) Mariola Tereza KOZUBEK on the topic: “Inclusion in the views of Pope Francis”. The organizer and moderator of the event was the director of the Center, Professor Olena Budnyk.

The event was held as part of the study of the “Fundamentals of Inclusive Education” (specialty 013 Primary Education) and was timed to the International Day of People with Disabilities. About 60 participants – students, educators, and scientists – took part in it online and offline.

The main speaker, Dr. Mariola Tereza Kozubek, is an expert in the field of pedagogy, theology, multicultural education, and family upbringing, the initiator of a volunteer fund to support Ukrainian immigrants, in particular children of war, in Poland, an educator of the Institute of Pedagogy and the Department of Theology at the University of Silesia. Her report outlined the essence of several concepts related to inclusion; the emphasis was placed on the necessity to create an inclusive educational environment based on tolerance, humanity, and charity. A special guest, Raul Silva from Sofia University in Italy, a specialist in theology and inclusion, joined the meeting. The scientist has experience in practical work with people with special needs, was born in Portugal, and worked in India, Brazil, and Italy. So his reflections were based on multiculturalism. During the discussion, they talked about various issues of providing psychological and pedagogical support to children with disabilities, Pope Francis’ support for people with special needs, the Holy Father’s address to the Ukrainian people after the war started, etc. After all, Raul Silva takes an active part in the projects of the Catholic Church in Rome, so he expressed his opinions on a number of current educational challenges, including socio-pedagogical work with Ukrainian children affected by the war.

The teaching staff and students of the Faculty of Pedagogy took an active part in the discussion, questioning the speaker on Pope Francis’s attitude to the children of war in Ukraine, the provision of psychological assistance to persons with disabilities, the possibilities of using the best experience of inclusive education in the Ukrainian education. The simultaneous interpreting from English and Polish was performed by Associate Professor Kateryna Fomin.

The participants expressed their gratitude to our guests and the Polish and Italian scientific community for their solidarity and support for Ukraine.