This week, we discussed disability-inclusive education. In this post, I define what that is, what it looks like in the classroom, and the benefits it has for social and economic development. I also discuss the role ICTs play. I finish my post by discussing how inclusive education is integrated into the CRPD and the UN SDGs.
Disability-inclusive education is when children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classroom. This is based on the idea that all children are valued equally and deserves the same opportunities and experiences in the classroom. Inclusion is also about providing the support and help needed to assist children learn in individualized ways through specially designed materials or technology.
Education is extremely important in social and economic development. When a child is educated, starting from early childhood education through higher education, they enable themselves to get better jobs and acquire new skills for a changing labor market. It is a known fact that persons with disabilities are employed at a lower rate and have higher rates of poverty – which could all change with inclusive education. Education also benefits and fosters social development by teaching children with disabilities self-esteem, by meeting new people and making new relationships, and by teaching them new social skills that would also benefit their economic development.
ICTs play a significant role in inclusive education. Actors that are involved are private actors, such as large tech companies, the United Nations, state actors, and non-governmental actors. Assistive technologies can include screen readers, alternative keyboards, electric work sheets, and proofreading programs. ICTs would be effective in education because they would enable all “learners to learn according to their individual learning preferences and to promote the long-term inclusion into wider society of learners with disabilities, through social inclusion and employment opportunities” (Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs…) ICTs would enhance learning for students with disabilities so that they experience greater success in the classroom.
Article 24 of the CRPD focuses on Education. We have discussed the CRPD as a transition to a human rights model approach to disabilities, and the first tenet is that education is a right for persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the Article states that parties must ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system, that reasonable accommodation is provided, and that individualized support to maximize academic and social development is provided. I believe that there is a gap between education law in the US regarding persons with disabilities and the CRPD; from my experience in primary, secondary, and higher education, the US does not enforce the same tenets that the CRPD does. Article 24 would benefit persons with disabilities in the US if the CRPD were to ever be ratified.
The UN SDG #4 Quality Education also emphasizes the need to ensure “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” There are several mentions of persons with disabilities in the targets and indicators section. Clearly, this is an issue that has a lot of international attention. It talks about accessibility, inclusivitiy, and reduced inequalities in regards to education.