Sustainable Development Goal #4, “Quality Education” and, more specifically, CRPD article #24, “Inclusive Education”, are both in collaboration towards the ultimate goal of creating an inclusive global education framework that is open to all. SDG 4 defines its goal as the following “to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”. Although this goal is very broad, this framework acts as a guide for many parties, both State and non-state. This concept of inclusive education is intensely important within this class and especially within the concept of inclusive sustainable development. According to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization, the term “inclusive education” is defined as “the process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners.” This definition advocates for wholly inclusive environments within the educational system, meaning full integration of those who are part of marginalized communities that have, traditionally, been unable to receive equal education benefits. A large population of this group includes disabled persons that normally struggle to achieve full access to traditional education systems. Even growing up, it was obvious that the other children in my class that were autistic or struggled with a mental disability did not receive the same quality of education as I did because they were often placed in a separate room, a separate class, to keep them isolated from those who were considered to be “normal”. Growing up in the United States, it was difficult to see friends and other students that struggled with these disabilities received lesser education, but it is important to note that there are placed within this earth where those with disabilities sometimes don’t even receive education due to their disabled status. This isolation from the education system coupled with their overall isolation from society leads to the intensified vulnerability and lack of opportunity for these persons living with disabilities, something that is not conducive to the overall inclusive sustainable development of our world. It is for this very reason that inclusive education is at the top of the list of priorities within the SDGs.
Education plays a gargantuan role in the overall social and economic development of our society. With education comes transparency and inclusivity on the global issues that we face as a human race, and without that inclusive aspect of life there is no opportunity for involvement of these voices that are the most important when searching for solutions. There is a plethora of countries that are currently attempting to implement inclusive education policies in accordance with SDG 4. For example, the 2003 UNESCO report titled “Inclusive Education Initiatives for Children with Disabilities: Lessons from the East Asia and Pacific Region” discusses the overall concept of inclusive educational policies. This report is an extensive look into the lives of children growing up with disabilities in their current education systems, noting both the challenges they face as well as the successes. By making this category of information public, the rest of the world is able to see why such a large population is struggling to receive a proper education and why it is necessary to implement change into the varying systems that affect the children of today.
ICTs are one of the most important contributors to achieving this concept of inclusive education due to the fact that it acts as a resource for those living with a disability to receive the education they would not have otherwise been able to obtain. For example, as mentioned in an earlier blog post, within the United States it is very common for universities to have an online option where people are able to receive their degree online. This is important because many persons living with a disability don’t have the resources or the ability to physically attend school. In other countries, access to the internet is also an incredible asset towards inclusive education because it allows for those marginalized communities to participate in global discussions and learning that they would not have had access to otherwise.
As more governments implement these inclusive education policies within their countries, more and more people are obtaining the ability to receive a quality education, which inherently reduces the global inequalities that the SDGs are implemented to eradicate. Additionally, the goals that have been established by the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are a great foundation for states to properly induct these inclusive education policies. Global education is crucial towards achieving not only the SDGs, but also in moving towards the ultimate goal of complete inclusive sustainable development.