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Inclusive Education as lens of comprehensive educational reform

A recent ADP report on inclusive education argues that addressing patterns of education exclusion is a crucial development strategy. Traditionally, ‘inclusive education’ was intended for people with disabilities, but the definition has expanded to include all physical, mental, geographic, ethnic, gender, financial, and other barriers to education. In effect, inclusive education is a paradigm shift on the relationship of school and learner, where the system must conform to the students rather than the other way around. It is a means of achieving Education for All (EFA). The report acknowledges that reform is difficult, but the benefits are many and the costs of not doing so are high:

“The wide range of reasons for doing inclusive education are: to improve the efficiency and cost-benefit of education system; to promote economic, social, and political development; to promote social cohesion and inclusion; to fulfill internationally mandated goals; to realize a human right.” (NISTPASS)

No educational reform to include previously excluded groups costs the system in terms of dropouts and rehabilitation, slower development associated with lower educational attainment levels, inequality, missing international development milestones. These are powerful arguments in favor of funding EFA strategies.

Implications

Using inclusive education as a lens to look at comprehensive education reform does bring deeper questions of rights for disadvantaged groups, and it could prove a powerful way of thinking about education in many countries.

NISTPASS writes,
“for development practitioners, the notion “education for all” is the right thing to do, but how to do it right is a more tricky issue. Inclusive development has many facets, including inclusive innovation, inclusive education and training, etc. And in fact, this trend emerged not only in Asia-Pacific, but globally. This should be seen as a strong trend even among development donor community, in a not too distant horizon.”

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