Today, 65 million primary school-age children are not in school and almost half of them are children with disabilities (World Bank). The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals have mentions of people with disabilities and Goal 4, Quality Education, is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Inclusive is a key word in this goal because it is acknowledging students with disabilities and ensuring that they receive a quality education as well.
Disability-inclusive education is simply giving students with disabilities an equitable education to their peers, adapting to their needs and abilities. In a World Bank blog post on disability inclusive education, the author wrote “The marginalization of children with disabilities is compounded by the dominant perception of disability as a disadvantage, and assumptions that for students with disabilities, school is a medium for socialization and not learning. Denying disabled children the right to education reinforces commonly held attitudes and assumptions of their diminished capacity, thereby putting them at an even further disadvantage” (World Bank). Educating “all” is often a priority of governmental and non-governmental organizations, but this all usually leaves out students with disabilities because it is believed that their needs are too great to be met.
Education plays a very large role in economic and social development. More education is linked with positive economic growth–when someone is taught skills they are able to work in a higher paying job/put more money back into society. Socially, education gives young people a place to learn how to socialize with peers and provides a safe place outside the home. Teachers are valuable to students’ development as well and a quality education can drastically change a child’s development. When I was working on my capstone proposal, I found research that inclusion of students with disabilities in a regular classroom setting is beneficial to students with disabilities and those without in both social interaction and academic achievement. I think this is an important factor to take into account when developing inclusive-education policy/academic plans because students with disabilities are often separated and in some cases given less than satisfactory education alternatives. In the case of Georgia used in my capstone, some counties stick students with disabilities into computer labs and their entire “education” is online.
ICTs play an important role in inclusive-education because they offer opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in a system that often leaves them out. An example we discussed in class was the robots at the DRR conference that allowed persons with disabilities who could not travel to the conference to take an active participator role in the proceedings.