All children has the right to be supported by their parents, schools and community to grow, learn, and develop. When all children, regardless of their differences, are educated together, everyone benefits—this is the cornerstone of inclusive education. It is important to note that inclusive education systems ensure all students have fair and equitable opportunities to be present, to participate, and to succeed in their educational journey. Many school systems are still in the early stages of transitioning from a special education model of inclusion to an inclusive system.
What is inclusive education?
Inclusive education means difference is normal, expected, accepted, and valued. All students are provided with appropriate learning opportunities within in the learning community. Inclusive education systems and classrooms can look different but the aim is the same: for ALL students to be a valued member of the school community through participation, presence, and achievement. Regardless of difference, all students belong to the same learning community and have fair opportunities to learn and develop. Inclusive education values diversity and the unique contributions each student brings to the classroom. Every child feels safe and has a sense of belonging.
Why is inclusive education important? Inclusive education is instrumental in changing discriminatory attitudes. We want our schools to reflect our communities- well, this is a start in the right direction. Bring all students together as individual learners within a community. Create opportunities for students to learn from one another, to build community together, and to grow as individuals. Showcase what people can contribute to the community despite difference. Respect, acceptance, & understanding develop when students of diverse abilities and backgrounds play, socialize, and learn together.
Components of an inclusive system
Collaboration: Staff work together to support students within an inclusive learning community. It takes team work in order to ensure opportunities are created within the learning community for all students to succeed and be a part of the group.
Inclusive curriculum: An inclusive curriculum includes locally relevant themes and contributions by marginalized and minority groups. It avoids narratives of good and bad, and allows adapting the curriculum to support all learners.
Flexibility: Inclusive systems are flexible- in their journey forward, they reflect, revise, and learn from missteps. Inclusive systems do not get caught up in 'what we always do', they are versatile and find their direction from the community members.
Parental involvement: Parents are part of the team! Inclusive school systems require active parents, collaboration between staff and parents, and support between parents and staff.
How do we keep growing as an inclusive education system?
ensure that educators have the training and resources to teach all students
ensure learning opportunities are available for parents, stakeholders, and educators
ensure schools receive adequate and sustainable financial support so that all activities and services are accessible for all kiddos
empower parents to assert their children’s right to education in inclusive settings
hold governments accountable- it costs money!!! Infrastructure, appropriate materials & resources, flexible & accessible furniture, education, and staff all come at a high price.