Inclusive Education

If we look at SDG 4, it focuses on “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Education, and more importantly equal access to quality education, is a fundamental element of development and plays a key role in advancing the development agenda. Paulo Freire, Brazilian instructor and philosopher, wrote a dissertation “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” where he addressed the importance of education for ensuring quality development for all populations. In his work, he focuses on providing basic education to grown adults who had never gone through the schooling process. The main goal that Freire sought was to not just teach his students fundamental education, but to teach them the ability to think critically. By thinking critically, it gives individuals the ability to not just learn material, but to find the answers to their questions themselves. The ability to think critically is fundamental because it gives individuals freedom. Once they started thinking for themselves, they quickly started to learn how unjust the societal system was and how oppressed they had been. Most of the individuals in his classes worked low tier minimum wage jobs and assumed that there was nothing else that they could do, that this lifestyle was the only thing available to them. However, once they started learning, they realized that learning and education were a significant part of what kept them in a loop of poverty and inequality. Freire takes a very marxist approach to education in that he believes that providing people with the ability to think critically will allow them to revolt against the unjust system that kept them uneducated. By becoming more educated, individuals can become a part of the conversation and advocate for their rights, furthering the development of poor and marginalized regions.  In creating an education system that provides the oppressed with the necessary learning to become fully active citizens in society and fight for their rights, it needs to be inclusive, not just to adults and children, but to persons with disabilities, women, immigrants, and all other groups that do not have equal access to education.  Education is a pillar to meeting the SDGs because it is the tool that individuals use to solve problems, great and small. It is a way to give marginalized people the freedom to develop themselves as they see fit, and fight against the system that oppresses them, instead of having others fight for their rights.