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Inclusive Education
Sabtu, 22 November 2014 01:54

What is Inclusive Education?

Yangxia Lee, Lao PDR

Inclusive education should be viewed in terms of including traditionally excluded or marginalized groups or making the invisible visible. The most marginalized groups are often invisible in society: disabled children, girls, children in remote villages, and the very poor. These invisible groups are excluded from governmental policy and access to education. 

The Jomtien World Conference on Education for All (1990) set the goal of Education for All. UNESCO, along with other UN agencies, a number of international and national non-governmental organisations, been working towards achieving this goal- adding to the efforts made at the country level.

Despite encouraging developments, it is recognised that current strategies and programmes have largely been insufficient or inappropriate with regard to needs of children and youth who are vulnerable to marginalisation and exclusion. Where programmes targeting various marginalized and excluded groups do exist, they have functioned outside the mainstream – special programmes, specialized institutions, and specialist educators. Notwithstanding the best intentions, too often the result has been exclusion: ‘second-rate’ educational opportunities that do not guarantee the possibility to continue studies, or differentiation becoming a form of discrimination, leaving children with various needs outside the mainstream of school life and later, as adults, outside community social and cultural life in general (UNESCO, 1999).

Inclusive education seeks to address the learning needs of all children, youth and adults with a specific focus on those who are vulnerable to marginalisation and exclusion. It was adopted at the Salamanca World Conference on Special Needs Education (1994) and was restated in Dakar (paragraph 4).


Inclusive education means that:


“Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children, children from remote or nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalised areas or groups.” (The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, para 3)

Rather than being a marginal theme on how some learners can be integrated in regular education, inclusive education is an approach that looks into how to transform education systems in order to remove the barriers that prevent pupils from participating fully in education. These barriers may be linked to ethnicity, gender, social status, poverty, disability etc. In some contexts certain ethnic minorities face discrimination in the classroom, in other contexts the family’s poverty might make it difficult for a family to afford sending their children to school. One group, in particular, most at risk of exclusion is learners with disabilities. However, this is not a homogeneous group. For example, two blind children in a same class are more likely to have different than similar needs: one might learn easily any academic subjects where as the other might face considerable difficulties in learning To meet the diverse need of all its students schools and other educational provisions need to be flexible and accommodating, they also need to seek out the children who are not there.

Inclusive education examines how the educational provisions can be modified or changed to make sure that the education is relevant to the local context, that it includes and treats all pupils with respect and that it flexible so that all can participate. It is a transverse issue that cuts across all education initiatives- from early childhood education to primary education, vocational education, adult education, teacher education and curriculum development. It has implications for teacher training, curriculum development, local capacity building and community involvement and requires re-directing resources and inter-sectorial cooperation. It aims to enable both teachers and learners to feel comfortable with diversity and to see it as a challenge and enrichment in the learning environment, rather than a problem.


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