Education Is Important For All

(SAMEER SAEED, RAWALPINDI)

What are the basic elements of inclusive education?
Use of teaching assistants or specialists: These staff have the potential to be inclusive or divisive. For instance, a specialist who helps teachers address the needs of all students is working inclusively. A specialist who pulls students out of class to work with them individually on a regular basis is not.

Inclusive curriculum: An inclusive curriculum includes locally relevant themes and contributions by marginalized and minority groups. It avoids binary narratives of good and bad, and allows adapting the curriculum to the learning styles of children with special education needs.

Parental involvement: Most schools strive for some level of parental involvement, but it is often limited to emails home and occasional parent–teacher conferences. In a diverse school system, inclusion means thinking about multiple ways to reach out to parents on their own terms.Is inclusive education expensive?

Making education inclusive is not a cost-cutting measure. Governments must be prepared to invest substantial resources at the outset on system reforms such as teacher and staff training; improving infrastructure, learning materials, and equipment; and revising curricula to implement inclusive education successfully. However, by eliminating redundancy and the high costs of running parallel systems, such investments are an efficient and effective use of funds, and hold the potential to improve education for all students.

Funding mechanisms must be reformed so that schools that enroll students with special needs receive the necessary additional financial resources. When students move from special schools to mainstream schools, the funding should also follow.

How do Open Society Foundations support inclusive education?
We promote changes to policy and practice in a variety of ways, including the following:

advocate for the recognition of children’s legal rights, such as supporting organizations of parents with children with special educational needs and disabilities in Armenia fund empirical research, including support for an organization of young people with disabilities in Uganda that is documenting barriers to education support sustainable services like networking and learning opportunities for schools and NGOs, such as teacher associations and parent groups strengthen civil society groups that give young people, parents, and educators a voice, including parent-led organizations advocating for the rights and inclusion of children with disabilities in Tajikistan engage with civil society and other actors in policy development by, for instance, providing technical support to the development of key inclusive education–related laws, policies, and strategies at the national level support governments and system services to pilot models of successful inclusive education provision that could be scaled up and replicated

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