The G3ICT Model Policy for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Persons with Disabilities focuses on how ICTs can be used to support the implementation of the CRPD, specifically articles 9 (accessibility), 21 (freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information), and 24 (inclusive education) of the CRPD (7). The Policy states that “access to ICTs that support participation in learning opportunities for learners with disabilities is…an international policy imperative” (10). This Model Policy also cites UNESCO’s 2009 definition of inclusive education: “inclusive education is a process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners…As an overall principle, it should guide all education policies and practices, starting from the fact that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society” (10). I found interesting that there are many international frameworks/initiatives that call for inclusive education, such as the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1960 Convention against Discrimination in Education, and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, yet, inclusive education is not universalized. I understand that progress is not simple, but I would think that further progress should be made. This leads me to ask: 1) How do we hold nations accountable when they commit to implementing an international framework? 2) Is there a system of checks and balances? 3) Are there consequences for not following through on commitments?
Education is important to development because as we have learned with many other sectors, such as health, infrastructure, food security, climate, etc., development is most inclusive when all sectors and all communities are included. Additionally, inclusive education helps promote development in other areas, as they are interrelated. For example, inclusive education programs that give education access to young girls help support inclusive health efforts around women’s sexual and reproductive health and gender equality efforts that argue for equal opportunity across gender. Chapter 2 of “Inclusive Education Initiatives for Children with Disabilities: Lessons from the East Asia and the Pacific Region” focuses on “The Inclusive Education Program of the Ministry of Education of Lao PDR” (25). Inclusive education efforts in Lao PDR illustrate multifaceted ways to promote inclusion in education. Reflection on the progress of inclusive education in Laos PDR reveals that “training alone will not produce sufficient change” as “only supported experiences can turn teachers into flexible creative professionals able to respond to children’s special learning needs” (34). Also, implementation teams must exist at both the national and provincial levels in order to promote continued progress in inclusive education (34). Emphasis is placed on cultivating cooperation at all levels, including between/within teachers, schools, families, and communities and between/within sectors, ministries, and international organizations (35). As such, inclusive education can be promoted through many different avenues, such as supporting teacher experience, creating implementation teams, and ensuring cooperation between all members of society and relevant organizations. Inclusive education can be achieved through such measures taken in Laos PDR, which resembles a bottom-up approach to development. As we discussed in class last week, communities cannot simply attend a conference and influence the document for their needs, but rather must go to all of the participatory events and be involved in the crafting processes in order to influence the document. This translates to promotion of inclusive education, as those who seek inclusion must 1) be allowed to participate and 2) take initiative to participate in inclusive education program planning.
I see inclusive education influencing my project in my discussion of National Indicator Framework (NIF, which is India’s national-level framework for assessing SDG implementation) indicator 3.8.1, the “percentage of currently married women (15-49 years) who use any modern family planning methods” (12). NIF indicator 3.8.1 is one of two indicators I will be looking at in my project, but this indicator is particularly amenable to inclusive education considerations. For indicator 3.8.1, inclusive education, particularly of young girls with disabilities, can influence the percentage of married women who use modern family planning methods as we have seen that education and health outcomes are closely related. In the article, “Inclusive Education in India – Interpretation, Implementation, and Issues,” it is stated that two government programs, Operation Blackboard and Lok Jumbish, focus on infrastructure, girls, scheduled caste, and scheduled tribe children (Giffard-Lindsay 12). These programs might offer insight into inclusive education for women and girls with disabilities, but I need to do more research on these programs and other initiatives, for sure.