Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities outlines the international legal framework regarding disability education. This article on the right to education emphasizes the rights to inclusive education and importantly prohibits any forms of disability-based discrimination in the education system. As discussed in class, students with disabilities are some of the most vulnerable individuals and have been historically excluded from educational opportunities at all levels.
The World Report on Disability estimates that are 93-150 million school-aged children with disabilities around the world. The report states that most of these children will not complete a primary level education because of the barriers they face in the classroom. The goal of inclusive education is to ensure that all individuals, particularly persons with disabilities, are guaranteed the freedom and choice to pursue an education. This freedom of choice brings the conversation back to Amartya Sen’s idea of development as freedom, the idea that the relationship between the ability to make decisions for oneself and development is reciprocal. Education provides the foundation for development. As individuals receive an education, they are simultaneously gaining the freedom to pursue various opportunities within society.
In addition to providing persons with disabilities the opportunity to gain an equal education, inclusive education allows for universal access within the entire community regardless of learning style. Thus, making inclusive education a beneficial aspect of any society. The establishment of ICTs for persons with disabilities is a major avenue being used to create educational opportunities to those unable to access more traditional forms of education. Fully online programs like the one discussed in class have led to fundamentally more access to education for persons with disabilities in both developed and middle income countries. ICTs are not only beneficial to persons with disabilities. By incorporating ICTs into the education system, they can reduce barriers such as social exclusion and improve access to virtual collaboratories. Because of this, ICT should be used more broadly in the classroom.
Inclusive education systems provide a better-quality education for all children and are instrumental in changing discriminatory attitudes. Schools provide the context for a child’s first relationship with the world outside their families, enabling the development of social relationships and interactions. I believe that respect and understanding grow when students of diverse abilities and backgrounds play, socialize, and learn together.
Education that excludes and segregates perpetuates discrimination against traditionally marginalized groups. When education is more inclusive, so are concepts of civic participation, employment, and community life.