On Tuesday, Crown Prince Haakon opened the Statped Conference in Oslo. This occurred despite the national health advice to avoid events with large crowds because of the coronavirus. The theme for this year’s conference is “I want to join too! The child’s voice and participation – for better learning and life skills in kindergarten and school. ”
During the opening of the conference, His Royal Highness gave a speech in which he said, “In kindergarten and in school, everyone is equally worthwhile. With their unique characteristics, everyone belongs to the same community. To belong, to be included is something fundamental to life. Together with others, we grow as human beings and acquire knowledge. Some need extra help to contribute – at their level. We are all different.”
The annual conference, which is in its fifth year, brings together more than 700 participants for two days of professional refills on special education. Statped, a public agency under the Ministry of Education, is the organiser of the conference. Statped was established as a national nationwide organisation in 2013. The Crown Prince was also present in the hall during a panel discussion on inclusion in education and working life.
Crown Prince Haakon also said: “I believe that everyone regardless of who we are and what qualities and abilities we have – knows the feeling of not being heard. Not to be taken seriously, not to be asked what I think. An inclusive community early on creates a good foundation for as many people as possible to feel seen and heard later in life. The desire to learn, and the desire to participate in a positive way, can be enhanced by each individual feeling seen and understood.”
Only hours after the opening of the conference by the Crown Prince, the conference was cancelled. The Statped conference issued a statement where they said that they were following the health authority’s advice related to coronavirus. The Public Health Institute came up with new recommendations on Tuesday evening. One of the tips was to cancel all indoor events with 500 or more participants. Therefore, the conference decided to cancel the remaining events.
By 10 March, the number of confirmed cases of corona in Norway had spiked to 400, and a rising number of those cases could not be traced to foreign travel or any known person infected, indicating community transmission had started in Norway.