Working Group – Inclusive Education

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Working Group – Inclusive Education Powered By Docstoc
					Working Group

Issues related to inclusive learning and access, opening
schools to diversity and expanding early childhood education
and secondary education
Issues related to the participation and learning among the
under-represented gender, castes, classes, races and ethno-
linguistic minorities.
(These two groups merged as there were not sufficient participants in one
group to make for a viable discussion)

Group Membership

Facilitator:   Johan Lindeberg (UNESCO Bangkok)
Scribe:        Liz Maudslay (conference rapporteur)
Chair:         Mr Ahmed Ali Didi (Maldives)
Reporter       Ms Badra Padmakanthi Withanage (Sri Lanka)

Members:       Ms Renuka Pandey (Nepall)
               Ms Usha Dixit (Nepal)
               Mr Lok Bilas Pant (Nepal)
               Mr Muhammad Akram (Pakistan)
               Ms Susan Durston (UNICEF ROSA)
               Ms Maki Hayashikawa (UNESCO Bangkok)
               Md. Zakir Hassain Chowdhury (Bangladesh)
               Prof. Sudesh Mukhopadhyay (NUEPA India)
               Rama Kant Rai (National Coalition for Education, India)
               Tshewang Tobggel (Bhutan)
               Shankar Chowdhury (India)
               Sharda Basnet (Nepal)

Issues related to the theme
The key issue identified by the group was the conundrum of countries needing
to find a balance between a holistic policy framework which recognised the
need for the inclusion of all children and the need to focus on particular
groups who were excluded from education. The group recognised that there
was a need for evidence based policies which included:

      Universal policies based on the recognition of the rights of all children
       to receive quality education

      Targeted provision which focussed on those who may have special

      Special measures for individuals who had particular, individual

Identification and description of the groups

The group spent some time discussing the pros and cons of identifying and
labelling particular groups of children who are excluded from education.
Concern was expressed that, although it was clear that certain groups were
currently particularly likely to be excluded – very poor children, working
children, migrant or IDP children, disabled children or those with learning
difficulties, Dalit children and children from ethnic or linguistic minorities - the
list could keep expanding. Members were very aware of regional disparity in
access to education. Those countries which were moving towards 100%
enrolment (Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan) were nevertheless aware that there
were significant numbers of children with disabilities or learning difficulties
who were still not included in schools. The group also recognised that ‘gender’
was not a particular group of people but a social construct which ran across
all groups and levels.

There was a recognition that simply putting children into ‘exclusion boxes’ was
problematic for several reasons:

      Many individuals faced multiple barriers– e.g. the girl child who was
       from a very poor family, of dalit origin, and the speaker of a minority
       language, hence required support on several counts and did not fit
       neatly into a specific category
      Categories themselves were not homogeneous – for example it has
       been recorded that hill dalits, whether girls or boys, in Nepal are more
       than twice as likely to access education than dalits in the Terai
      Classification of groups and then the allocation of additional resources
       or privileges to these groups can result in divisiveness as has been
       witnessed recently in India

      Labelling can in itself cause stigma hence encourage the discrimination
       which needs to be eliminated
      Labelling excluded groups could result in placing the onus of exclusion
       on the individual and so divery attention away from the fact that much
       of the problem lay in the inability of education to include these children,
       both girls and boys

The group therefore preferred an approach which focused instead on how to
ensure that the educational system became better able to fulfil its obligations
and ensure inclusion of all children. It chose to target its work on the ‘four
As’of a rights based approach framework:

The Availability of free and compulsory education to all school age children
at all stages of education

The Accessibility of that education to all children

The Acceptability of education so it conforms to minimum equality standards
in terms of learning materials, methods of instruction, health and safety and
professional requirements for teachers

The Adaptability of the education system in the best interests of the learner
to ensure that it is flexible enough to be responsive to the diverse needs of all
individual learners

Several participants spoke about how a prime reason for exclusion was the
fact that many children and their families, particularly those who were very
poor, still did not see education as having any relevance for them or place in
their lives and how schools were seen as places for other children but not for
them. Rather than focus on excluded groups we chose instead to focus on the
policy and practice changes which were required if an educational system
were to be established which responded to the needs of all children including
those who were at risk of not enrolling in education, who were at risk of not
being able to access learning at school or who were at risk of dropping out
because their schooling did not respond to their particular requirements or
because they were discriminated against at school.

Policies which were in place and policy gaps

The group spent some time examining the local framework and policies of all
countries from the region. While policies varied it was felt in general that all
countries did have policies which advocated free, and in some cases
compulsory, education for all children. However, all countries acknowledged
that these policies were not universally effective in practice. All countries also
had additional policies which targeted specific groups, for example, policies
for certain scheduled castes or policies for disabled learners. Important as
these policies might be in the current situation, there was a widespread
recognition that these policies were not being effective in ensuring the
inclusion of all learners. Three main reasons for this were identified:

Educational policies which existed were not being effectively implemented – in
particular it was noted that if the policies which stipulated that education was
free for all were being fully implemented there would not be a need for the
host of special stipends and scholarships which countries put in place

Policies could at times contradict each other – for example policies which
stated the age to which children were entitled to remain at school were at
odds with other policies on marriage age or the age at which children could go
to work

Policies were addressing particular targeted groups which by nature inevitably
left out other groups of excluded children rather than addressing what was
wrong with the educational system in that it was not able to include all children

Educational policies on their own were insufficient to address all issues of
inclusion and needed to be matched by policies in other areas such as child
protection or child labour. It was noted that many children were quite simply
afraid to come to school because of the widespread use of corporal
punishment; however, only Bhutan had actually made corporal punishment

Recommended policies, strategies and innovative approaches

The first policy which the group felt was needed was that Governments
respect, protect, and fulfil free and compulsory education for all children,
regardless of their status. Participants felt that the issue of poverty was still
the major factor which resulted in exclusion from school. Strategies should be
implemented which ensured that education was completely free with no
hidden costs. Sri Lanka was recognised as the one country in the region
where this was fully in place.

It was recognised that teachers who held positive and gender sensitive
attitudes towards the inclusion of all children and who were provided with the
skills to manage and respond to the needs of diverse children were key to
ensuring inclusion of all children. If all children are to receive quality
education, policies needed to be in place which ensured that all pre-service
and in-service training should include mandatory components which include
issues such as gender sensitivity and non-discrimination, which provide all
teachers with the knowledge, skills, and attitude to respond to the diverse
needs of all learners in order that they reach their full potential in education.
While there are several models which support inservice training, more needed
to be done to ensure that pre service training ensured that all teachers were
appropriately trained to understand how best to cater for the full range of

It was recognised that schools which are best able to include all children
required the support of senior managers hence there was a need to sensitize
and train education management to issue of inclusive education in order to
fulfill all children’s right to education. This included managers at national and
local policy level as well as head teachers and SMC members. Programmes

needed to be devised which addressed the particular needs of these different
groups of managers. While there are individual examples of this happening
the procedures needed to be institutionalised so that they applied throughout

It was widely recognised that the curriculum, the way in which it was delivered
to children and learning materials could often act as blocks to the inclusion of
certain children. Too many children are presented with a curriculum which can
be gender stereotyped, which is not relevant to their particular needs and
which is delivered in ways which mean it is not accessible to them. There was
a need for curriculum, materials, and facilities to be relevant, gender sensitive,
inclusive, accessible, and acceptable. This included changes to curriculum
content to ensure its relevance and interest to all children and also ensuring
that materials themselves did not include discriminating or gender insensitive
attitudes and instead actively promoted non discrimination. It also required.
changes to curriculum delivery to ensure it was accessible to all learners, for
example that materials were available in alternative formats such as Braille
when required, that learning was available in the language of the children, that
delivery methods were those which best met the learning styles of children
(for example small groups teaching, active learning methods etc.) While there
were several individual examples of curricula which had been made relevant
to all children and which were taught using creative methods, these needed to
be scaled up so that they were available to all schools.
All country members spoke of innovative ways in which non formal education
had been used as a means of including children who had previously been
excluded from education. For example in Bangladesh NGOs had often
worked creatively with working children allowing them to access education in
ways which most suited their specific situation and in India education had
been flexibly delivered in order to respond to the particular circumstances of
older girl learners, sometimes providing education near their homes or at
other times providing residential facilities; in Pakistan non formal education
programmes had adapted the curriculum so older children could complete
their learning more quickly than if they had been at school. There was a
recognition that Governments needed to utilize the linkages and create
synergy between formal and non-formal education. Both sectors had much to
learn from each other, but this required greater resources to be put into non
formal education. Both the status of the work carried out in the non formal
sector and the status and pay of facilitators working in this sector needed to
be raised if an equal and sharing relationship between the two sectors was to
be developed.
The group recognised that an inclusive system of education required a
recognition that there were different ways of measuring progress and learner
outcomes. A rigid assessment process whereby all children were judged
according to the same test based criteria inevitable excluded many children
who then perceived themselves as failures and so dropped out. Instead there
needed to be systems for both students and schools which recognize a
variety of ways for measuring progress. There was also a need to look at
different ways of assessing the success of both children and schools. These
included encouraging self assessment amongst students and devising

benchmarks of success for schools which included social auditing and
gathering the views of children and parents.
The group recognised the need to address the fact that there needed to be
collaboration both between different Government departments and also
between different service providers in order to ensure the inclusion of all
children. Currently departments and services can often work in isolation rather
than collaborating in order to address the holistic needs of individual children.
Instead there needed to be policies and structures which are centred around
the best interest of the child. Positive examples were given of how this could
happen both at a departmental and at service level. For example Nepal’s ECD
programme has brought together different government departments and at
local level in India health workers and educational staff have co-ordinated in
order to ensure that individual disabled children receive appropriate aids so
that they can access education. However, too often different sectors work in
isolation and children are denied essential co-ordinated support structures.

It was acknowledged that the South Asian region was one that was
particularly likely to experience emergency situations, both those caused by
natural disasters and those which came about as a result of fragile political
situations. It was also recognised that children who were most vulnerable
were those who were most likely to be most adversely affected by emergency
situations. Countries needed to ensure that their emergency procedures
included strategies for how best to ensure that education could resume as
soon as possible after an emergency had occurred.

Critical success factors – what works and what does not work

National policies and legislative framework is essential but too often there is a
huge gap between policy and practice. Policies will only work if they are
accompanied by clear strategies for implementation.

Policies which address specific groups of learners may ensure the inclusion of
certain individuals. However, to ensure an effective system of inclusive
education policies also need to look at the structure and delivery of education
as a whole including management, curriculum content and delivery and
assessment. There is a challenge in formulating policies which are both
holistic but also recognise additional requirements of particular groups and

While appropriately trained teachers is an essential factor in inclusive
education, experience shows over again that schools which are most effective
in including the full diversity of learners are those in which there is also
proactive support from head teachers and government officials.

Education Departments cannot on their own ensure the inclusion of all
children to education. There needs to be proactive commitment across

departments and services so that they can work together to address the
different barriers which can contribute to the exclusion of children form

Creative examples of good practice do exist in all countries but these often
remain as isolated examples. There need to be ways of capturing this good
practice both to share it with other practitioners and also to ensure that this
grass roots practices serves to inform policy decisions and teachers. Too
often policy is developed as a top down exercise and teachers and others
who have to carry out policies feel disempowered in the face of national or
international directives. Instead local communities, SMCs and teachers need
to be seen as essential partners in decision making.


The policies and approaches listed above will only be successful if strong
partnerships are formed, both horizontal and vertical.

These include:
    Partnerships between Government and donors to endure donors are
      understanding and supporting the country’s vision and requirements.

      Partnerships between Government Departments to ensure that a
       holistic approach is taken towards inclusive education with different
       departments and agencies playing their appropriate roles and sharing
       resources where necessary.

      Partnerships at local level between education officers and schools.

      Partnerships at local level between education providers and other
       service providers including NGOs.

In addition there are two further important partnerships which are often

Teachers are key to the success of inclusive education and gender equality in
education. Too often teachers are seen as the recipients of policies. In
adopting the policies advocated above we are asking much of teachers in
terms of changing deeply established practices. It is essential that they are
included as active partners so that they can both inform and actively
participate in the inclusive education process

Children and parents are also crucial partners. They are the people who know
both what their aspirations and their requirements are. Parents of children
excluded or likely to be from education should be involved in School
Management Committees and proactive moves must be taken to listen to the
views of both children and their families.

Points raised in subsequent plenary discussion

Mr Vikram Sahay (India) India said that it was important not to forget the value
of incentives and targeted enrolment drives as a necessary short term
measure to ensure enrolment. Examples were given of incentives such as
free uniforms or free text books for disadvantaged groups. They also spoke
about a project in Gujurat where large numbers of Government officials and
police had attended an awareness programme during which they held 3 day
camps in villages and ensured that all out of school girl children were enrolled
in school.

Samphe (UNICEF India) raised a concern that abolishing all costs could
sometimes merely drive things underground – for example there were rules
against private tuition in India but it still happened. Instead one needed to look
at why private tuition was felt to be so important and how we could make
education effective for all children. He also spoke about the intense social
pressure throughout the region to achieve according to a narrow definition of
formal, exam based education and how in looking at issues of inclusive
education it was also important to look at underlying social pressures.

Sudesh Mukhopadhyay spoke about indirect costs in the form of cost of text
books and how this cost was especially high if these books needed to be in
Braille. Braille and Sign Languages needed to be accepted as official forms of
writing and languages.

A question was raised about how direct and indirect costs were defined.
Johan said indirect costs covered uniform, text books etc, and could also
include opportunity costs. While accepting that incentives such as free text
books or uniform for certain groups might be necessary for a transition period,
he also felt there was a contradiction in countries saying education was ‘free’
then speaking of the variety of ways in which they supported certain
individuals with costs.

Some delegates felt that the paper had not emphasised sufficiently the very
important role that non-formal education programmes played in providing
access to education for disadvantaged groups.

Lawa Wasti (Nepal) spoke of how scholarships for targeted groups such as
girls or low caste groups did have positive results and helped to make
changes at local level. There needed to be a shift towards more local level
decision making about how these scholarships should be allocated.

Some concern was expressed that the paper did not sufficiently emphasise
the importance of education becoming more inclusive and gender sensitive
throughout the system – at the levels of ECCE secondary/tertiary as well as at


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