It is only quite recently that dyslexia or specific learning difficulties have been widely acknowledged and researched.
Much of this research has focused on younger children and their difficulties of learning to read.
The majority of children with dyslexia eventually learn to read, but large numbers of them as they grow up continue to have considerable difficulties with spelling, aspects of grammar and writing.
Moreover, the long-term effects of dyslexia are only just beginning to be acknowledged and appreciated.
The British Dyslexia Association (BDA, 2002) suggests that dyslexia is:
“A combination of abilities and difficulties which affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying weaknesses may be identified in areas of speed of processing, short-term memory, sequencing, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. Dyslexia can occur despite normal intellectual ability and teaching. It is independent of socio-economic or language background’.
Pupils with learning difficulties may participate in the Panhellenic General Examinations but they are offered special provisions. Pupils with a formal diagnosis of dyslexia give oral final exams instead of written to enter higher education. Oral examinations is the only legally and educationally recognized provision offered to learning disabled pupils (including those with dyslexia) according to the Law 2525 of 1997.
A final remark is that the overall numbers of students entering higher education has also increased in recent years. The number of students in higher education in 1999-2000 has been doubled in comparison to 1990-91. This increase may push upwards the number of students with dyslexia who enter higher education.
Only the last two decades the Greek Education System pays attention to the special educational needs of dyslexic pupils. In ordinary primary schools, dyslexic children may receive learning support on a part-time, withdrawal basis. There are around 700 learning support classes (inclusion classes) serving predominately urban and semi-urban areas (about one in four schools with 6 or more classes). This service caters for a wide range of special educational needs providing support for the 1.6% of all primary school children. According to the learning support teachers ), almost one in five of these children seemed to have difficulties related to dyslexia (3.3% with diagnosed dyslexia & 15.6% with suspected dyslexia). At the secondary level no support is available for pupils with dyslexia apart from the replacement of written exams with oral.
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