Inclusive Education: Band-aids Now, Reconstruction Later

Despite serious progress made during the reign of the Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development Goal 4 was created to push forward to universalizing access to equal and sufficient education for all. Obviously, the world failed to meet the 2015 deadline of the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education. In 2013, the latest year for which the SDG website has verified data, fifty-nine million children of primary-school age were not attending school, nor were they being schooled in the home. The United Nations estimates that, among those fifty-nine million children, twenty percent of that group had dropped out. The Sustainable Development Goals clearly recognize that this gap must be closed, and I agree. The problem with the mission to universalize education is a mistake in prioritization for development organization. Many education-centric organizations focus on increasing the number of teachers in an area or founding new schools with inclusive language in their founding documents. These both are admirable goals but essentially incorrect. They are missions that seek a sustainable, long term improvement in infrastructure in the region while what children need is direct access to education as soon as possible. Target 4.c of SDG 4 says that the United Nations will “by 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and Small Island developing States”.  The mistake here is that the UN and other Education NGOs are trying to build the infrastructure for a viable education system and ignoring those kids in primary education right now. By 2030 an eight-year-old girl in primary school will be a twenty-four-year-old adult who is surviving without furthering her education. She will have passed through the system without any aid from any of the frameworks we have covered in class.

When people in this class read about inclusive education, they think about young girls out of school or people suffering poverty who need to enter the work-force of their country without secondary education. These people are suffering, they do need help, but it is a little shocking to me that all of these genuinely admirable programs, no group seems to be focused on the kids in school today or the very recent graduates who need the help of programs to supplement their minimal education. Parents and older peers were the individuals who showed me the value of education; it surprises me that more groups do not try to duplicate that means of motivation.