Inclusion Worldwide

 Inclusion Worldwide

The concept and practice of inclusive education has gained worldwide attention in the past few decades. Inclusive education as a concept and terminology was introduced in the 1990’s however the core of inclusive education is the human right to education, pronounced in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The right of children to have access to inclusive education is widely supported in international human rights laws and   conventions. From the launching of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the more recent UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the global community has supported the vision of transforming policy and practice toward educating all children.

However, paving the road to inclusion began during the 1990 Jomtien World Conference on "Education for All".  In June 1994 in a  World Conference on Special Needs Education, a total of 92 Governments and 25 international organizations agreed a dynamic new Statement calling for inclusive education to be the norm adopting a "Framework for Action". The Salamanca Statement (1994) , a product of the conference is considered to be the impetus for inclusive education worldwide. The Statement  called on the international community to endorse an approach of inclusive schools by implementing philosophical, practical and strategic changes. The Salamanca Statement (1994) put inclusion on the international educational agenda, supporting a human rights perspective in that it stated, “inclusion and participation are essential to human dignity and the enjoyment and exercise of human rights.”   The Statement proclaimed:

“Regular schools with inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discrimination, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all.” (Salamanca Statement, Art. 2) .

"Soon after the international Salamanca World Conference(UNESCO, 1994), the word inclusion appeared in almost all major international documents and reports. However, the field remains confused as to what this means.  In some countries, inclusion is still thought of as an approach to serving children with disabilities within general education settings.  Internationally, however, it is increasingly seen more broadly as a reform that supports and welcomes diversity amongst all learners (UNESCO, 2001).  It presumes that the aim of inclusive education is to eliminate social exclusion that is a consequence of attitudes and responses to diversity in race, social class, ethnicity, religion, gender and ability.  As such, it starts from the belief that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just society." (Ainscow & Miles 2009).

Today more than 57 million children of primary school age  are not enrolled in schools, while ‘children with disabilities are still combating blatant educational exclusion – they account for one third of all out-of schoolchildren.’ (UNESCO 2009).

In addition many adolescents lack foundation skills gained through lower secondary education. In 2011,  69 million adolescents were out of school. Consequently, around 175 million young people around the world  (equivalent to around one quarter of the youth population) cannot read all or part of a sentence. (Education For All,(EFA) Global Monitoring Report (2014).

 In  the Arab region alone it is reported that an estimate of 4.8 million children are out of school (2011 statistics), while high proportions of children with disabilities continue to be deprived of educational opportunities and are more likely to never enter school than other children.  (EFA Arab States  Regional Report 2014)

Thus  educational systems throughout the world are faced with challenges in providing effective education for their children and young people

 “Inclusive education is one of the greatest challenges facing educational systems throughout the world today, whether we are referring to developing, transition or developed countries”   (Acedo, Ferrer, & Pàmies, 2009)