This blog post discusses the intersection of inclusive education and development.
Disability inclusive education means there are equal opportunities in education for persons with physical or intellectual disabilities. To have equal opportunities means that students with disabilities should have equal access to pursuing educational opportunities and also receive the same quality of education as students who do not have disabilities. Disability inclusive education is very important to development as most of the education systems in developing countries are not inclusive; around 90% of children with disabilities in those countries are not in school according to UNESCO. It is Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) that recognizes the right of persons with disabilities to “an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning.” The CRPD further explains that this right means that persons with disabilities should: not be excluded from education on the basis of their disability, be able to access quality free public education in the same way as other members of their communities, be given reasonable accommodation of their needs, be given the individualized support they need, and be educated by the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual.
The role of education in social and economic development is crucial. The CRPD describes the point of education in article 24 by saying that education serves “the full development of human potential and sense of dignity and self-worth, and the strengthening of respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and human diversity,” the “development by persons with disabilities of their personality, talents and creativity, as well as their mental and physical abilities, to their fullest potential,” and “[enables] persons with disabilities to participate effectively in a free society.” While this serves to the development of freedoms for persons with disabilities and their capabilities to function, there is also the enhanced ability of PWDs to participate in the economy because of inclusive education. UNICEF proposes changing the framework of education for PWDs from viewing the child as the problem to viewing the educational system as the problem.
President Kim of the World Bank often emphasizes that the best thing a country can do to improve its economic well-being (GDP) is to invest in human capital: health and education. Education develops a person’s practical knowledge, skills, and abilities so that they can participate in the economy, meet job qualifications, and potentially even become an innovative entrepreneur. Persons with disabilities must have the right to choose what level of education they want to attain.
Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) are very beneficial to pragmatic excellence in educational inclusivity for persons with disabilities. Two important actors in disability inclusive education have been the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). UNESCO’s Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities states that examples of inclusive ICTs for participatory and individualized education are: mainstream technologies like computers, web browsers, word processors, whiteboards and mobile phones that have accessibility features, assistive technologies for accessing and using mainstream technologies, accessible media and formats, and accessible digital learning content and instructional delivery systems.