Receiving a quality education is vital to sustainable development. As Sen (1999) states, education is a gateway that improves quality of life while opening up economic, political, and social opportunities. However, persons with disabilities have historically been excluded from educational opportunities. Therefore, disability-inclusive education has been designed to remedy that imbalance by ensuring that all people are being provided the educational opportunities and skills they need to participate in social and economic development. Article 24 of the CRPD recognizes the right to education for persons with disabilities and requires states to ensure that persons with disabilities are not excluded from the education system. Moreover, Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Looking specifically at its targets that focus on inclusivity, SDG 4 works toward ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for persons with disabilities, as well as building and upgrading facilities that are disability-inclusive to create better learning environments.
My capstone project focuses specifically on disability-inclusive education in Malaysia. In Malaysia, education is viewed as a key instrument in transforming the country into a knowledge-based economy that can compete with a globalized world, as well as promoting harmony and unity for its uniquely diverse society. In its national education policy, better known as the Education Blueprint 2013-2025, the Malaysian government aims to provide equal access to education and create more inclusive environments for persons with disabilities. However, the implementation of this policy is challenging due to negative public perceptions of disability in Malaysia. The Malaysian Information Network on Disabilities has asserted that among policy makers and the public there is a lack of awareness on the rights and needs of persons with disabilities. The general public still continues to believe that children with disabilities are often kept out of the public and are an embarrassment and burden to their families. Similarly, teachers hold common beliefs that students with disabilities would be best educated in separated classrooms. These challenges to inclusive education affect many countries around the world, but significantly impact the success of disability-inclusive education in Malaysia. Despite this, education can be utilized to transform cultural and social stigmas of disability within Malaysian society.
As discussed in this week’s seminar, inclusive technologies can help positively transform societies like Malaysia. Firstly, they can help individualize learning for students with disabilities. Moreover, they can connect educators with one another to develop teacher’s professional development and to share resources to positively improve disability-inclusive education. Ultimately, inclusive education is paramount to sustainable development practices, and best facilitated through the use of inclusive ICTs.
Education is possibly the most important contribution to the development of children. Education must be inclusive, not only in that it includes persons with disabilities and provides the frameworks needed to succeed, but also in that it allows for the education of all; teaching persons with and without disabilities the understanding and acceptance needed to create cultural changes that will make our society as a whole most inclusive.
Article 7 of the UNCRPD focuses on children disabilities and how children with disabilities have the right to enjoy the same freedoms as other children. An integral freedom of children with disabilities is the right to go to school and learn. Article 9, on accessibility, encourages the structural changes needed for children of all abilities to access not just the physical school but also the content learned. Article 30, on participation in recreation, includes the social and extracurricular activities offered in many schools, which should be accessible to all students. Though there are many articles from the CRPD that could be applied in a context that would increase inclusion in education, Article 24, on education itself, is the most comprehensive. This article covers everything from Braille and sign language to individualized support to maximize academic and social development.
According to a 2011 World Bank report, there are between 93 and 150 million school-aged children with disabilities globally. Inclusive education ensures that these children are not excluded from educational opportunities and that they reach the same level of education as those without disabilities. UNESCO, along with the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies (G3ICT), joined together to promote ways to implement the UNCRPD.
UNESCO worked together with G3ICT because information technology is an important way for schools to increase their inclusivity. At the World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS), it was suggested that these ICTs could increase inclusion. These ICTs could have assistive technology, encourage personalized learning, have self-accommodation that could increase independence, and other important technologies. Screen readers, alternative keyboards, and alternative communication devices are just a few examples of amazing technologies that could be used to increase the accessibility of education for all. With information technology available, more people than ever will be able to access quality education and move further on the road to achieving their dreams.
This blog post discusses the intersection of inclusive education and development. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Education is perhaps one of the most complementary fields to target for inclusivity. Due to the nature of learning, the various ways that individuals of all backgrounds learn best, and the importance of education in sustainable development, inclusive education is essential to achieving the SDGs and their commitments to persons with disabilities. Continue reading
Education plays an incredibly vital role in social and economic development. Human capital, one of the key components of economic growth, is created and strengthened through education and provides almost endless opportunities. As movements to include persons of disability are gaining traction and popularity around the world, it is essential to look to the root of human development in education to strengthen inclusivity.
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. Continue reading