The term “inclusive education” is defined (according the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization —UNESCO) in the 2014 Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities as, “the process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners.” It is important to remember that inclusive education does not mean separate schools for through traditionally left out of the public school education system nor does it mean special classes within schools. Instead, truly inclusive education dictates the full integration of those traditionally ignored by the public education system into the mainstream classroom. Including children with disabilities into the traditional education system is often key to implementing inclusive education within a given country or region. Children with disabilities often struggle to access to education at all. A lack of education, as has been demonstrated time and time again, can have serious implications in terms of financial security and employment opportunities.
There are a variety of countries and even regions that are currently attempting to implement inclusive education policies. One region currently engaged in implementing inclusive educational policies is East Asia and the Pacific. The 2003 UNESCO report titled, “Inclusive Education Initiatives for Children With Disabilities: Lessons from the East Asia and Pacific Region” explores the success and challenges associated with the implementation of inclusive educational policies. Each chapter explores the various experiences of different countries in the region. By including children with disabilities in the education system, countries exponentially expand the options available to this vulnerable sub-group.
Aside from the ever-important human-aspects associated with implementing inclusive education policy, it is also vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and more specifically, SDG 4. Lack of education among children with disabilities also poses a direct threat to SDG 4— “Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. “ By introducing more inclusive education policies within countries, governments are taking an active step to reducing educational inequities towards children with disabilities. This in turn, clears the way for “ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education.” Implementing inclusive educational policies also goes a great way towards achieving some of the educational goals laid out by the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Therefore, while implementing inclusive educational policies may at times by challenging, they are absolutely paramount towards achieving the SDGs and alleviating inequities that exist among children with disabilities.