Achieving universal education is a grand challenge that has been afflicting the global community for decades. The Millennium Development Goals set out to achieve universal primary education by 2015, but obviously fell short of meeting its’ goal. Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education maintains the commitment of the international community in achieving universal education, with an emphasis on inclusive education. Education is highly important as it the foundation for development. Specifically, inclusive education is integral for children with disabilities. According to Investigating Teachers’ Concerns and Experiences in Teaching Children With Special Educational needs in Bhutan, 80% of persons with disabilities live in developing countries.
As mentioned in Inclusive Education Initiatives for Children with Disabilities: Lessons from the East Asia and the Pacific Region, every child has a right to education as highlighted in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Disabled children are not an exception to this rule. In fact, the lack of educational opportunities offered to children with disabilities is increasingly problematic, because without education, children with disabilities “face huge barriers to full social and economic participation in society.” This is evident from our guest speaker, Mr. Nay Lin Soe. Mr Nay Lin Soe mentioned that he was initially denied education in Myanmar because of his disability. This lack of inclusive education has large implications, as Mr. Nay Lin Soe demonstrated in his presentation. In Myanmar, 53% of disabled children do not have access to primary education. A total of 1% of the population is a university graduate with a disability. Further, 85% of disabled adults are not employed. This data indicates the larger impact of the lack of inclusive education measures. More than half of all disabled children in Myanmar do not have access to education; this translates to 85% of disabled adults without employment. Persons with disabilities are subject to unfreedoms that should be guaranteed to individuals. These unfreedoms cause persons with disabilities to face barriers in social and economic participation in society, resulting in an 85% of disabled adults unemployment rate in Myanmar.
Because of this, the adoption of disability inclusive education practices is essential. Disability inclusive education is “a process of including children with disabilities in mainstream classes in a way that addresses and responds to their individual learning needs” (Inclusive Education Initiatives for Children with Disabilities: Lessons from the East Asia and the Pacific Region). However, achieving disability inclusive education is rather challenging. In an effort to make disability inclusive education less challenging, UNESCO and the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ict) compiled a model policy document to assist Member States in developing policy geared toward inclusive education. This model is an extremely important in the effort toward achieving inclusive education.