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Programmes Inclusive Education

The principle of inclusive education was adopted at the Salamanca World Conference on Special Needs Education (UNESCO, 1994) and was restated at the Dakar World Education Forum (2000).

Inclusive education is a human rights issue, all children having the rights to receive the kind of education that does not discrimination on the grounds of disability, gender, capabilities, religion, ethnicity and language.

It is widely recognized that current strategies and programmes have largely been insufficient or inappropriate to the needs of the children, youth and adults, who are vulnerable to marginalization and exclusion. Majority of the programmes targeting such persons exists outside the mainstream - Special needs, special programmes, specialized institutions and specialist educators. Most of these children are provided second rate educational opportunities, outside the mainstream of school system and very often outside the community, social and cultural life.

A working definition of inclusion is presented in the UNESCO Conceptual Paper “Overcoming Exclusion through Inclusive Approaches in Education. A Challenge and a Vision” (2003). “Inclusion is seen as a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children.”

Inclusive education, therefore, is an integrated process of responding to the diverse needs of all learners through enhanced participation in learnings and communities as well as reducing exclusion within and from education.

Barriers

A number of barriers to learning and development of children, youth and adults with disability exists. These include;

  • Inappropriateness and inadequacy and inequality in learning environments;
  • Socio-economic factors (negative attitudes towards difference , prevalence of violence and abuse and risk of HIV/AIDS);
  • Curriculum (inflexible and content-heavy curricula);
  • Environment (physical inaccessibility  of the schools and non-availability/inadequacy of basic facilities);
  • Language and communication (teaching, learning through a language, which is not the first language of the learners as well as low esteem attached to second language learners);
  • Organization and governance of educational systems (centralized functioning of the school system and overemphasis on rules rather than an ensuring quality service delivery); and
  • Inadequate and fragmented human resource development (untrained or inadequately trained teachers, lacking the skills to respond to the varied needs of the learners).

Strategies and Activities

IISD has been evolving appropriate strategies, within the existing resources to flexibly respond to the circumstances and needs of all learners. The activities, implemented by the Organization, include;

  • Providing physical access and congenial learning environment;
  • Supporting teachers and educational administrators through extensive training sessions (both pre-service & in-service) on understanding the visible and less visible disabilities;
  • Awareness-building and advocacy on the needs and characteristics of inclusive education;
  • Involving communities;
  • Providing inclusive approach to pedagogy with explicit focus on appropriate teaching and learning materials;
  • Expanding the reach of information and communication technology (ICTS) to the children with disabilities’ and
  • Linking inclusion to broaden developments to address issues of poverty, illiteracy, marginalization and exclusion; and
  • Use inclusion as a vital link in empowering the children, youth and adults with disability.

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