Education is the only aspect that breaks the chain of every injustice. It’s the one solution, for all the problems of the world. A basic, yet an impactful need for every child. The world might move forward, but without education, it all comes back to a circle. The indispensable role of education can never be eliminated, no matter how much we move ahead.
Something that has such a significant task of shaping the life of every person in this world, it is absolutely distressing to see that millions of children either don’t have access to any education or are denied access because our education system is not inclusive enough. Keeping all these criteria into consideration, UNESCO came out with a global education monitoring report titled, “inclusion and education: All means All”.
The Director-general of UNESCO highlighted a critical point in the report saying, “It has never been more crucial to make education a universal right, and a reality for all. Our rapidly-changing world faces constant major challenges – from technological disruption to climate change, conflict, the forced movement of people, intolerance and hate – which further widen inequalities and exert an impact for decades to come. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and deepened these inequalities and the fragility of our societies. More than ever, we have a collective responsibility to support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, helping to reduce long-lasting societal breaches that threaten our shared humanity.”
The report also highlights the need for inclusion in education by stating that inclusivity can improve academic achievement, social and emotional development, self-esteem and peer acceptance. Diversity of students in a classroom prevents stigma, stereotypes and discrimination.
According to the report, an estimated 258 million children, adolescents and youth, or 17% of the global total, are not in school. The report also talks about the exclusion from education of children with disabilities. “In 10 low- and middle-income countries, children with disabilities were 8 percentage points, or 19%, less likely to achieve minimum proficiency in reading than those without disabilities. Yet in all 10 countries, especially the poorest, the majority of children, regardless of disability status, were at high risk of exclusion, as they did not achieve minimum proficiency in reading.” For persons with disabilities, the inclusivity of education would work in favour of their sense of dignity and self-worth.
To make education inclusive and accessible to all, the report provides some recommendations –
- Widen the understanding of inclusive education- It should include all learners, regardless of identity, background or ability.
- Target financing to those left behind- There is no inclusion while millions lack access to education
- Share expertise and resources- This is the only way to sustain a transition to inclusion.
- Engage in meaningful consultation with communities and parents- Inclusion cannot be enforced from above.
- Ensure cooperation across government departments, sectors and tiers- Inclusion in education is but a subset of social inclusion.
- Make space for non-government actors to challenge and fill gaps- They must also make sure they work towards the same inclusion goal.
- Apply universal design- Ensure inclusive systems fulfil every learner’s potential.
- Prepare, empower and motivate the education workforce- All teachers should be prepared to teach all students.
- Collect data on and for inclusion with attention and respect- Avoid labelling that stigmatizes.