Inclusive education a pathway to attain social inclusion

30 June 2017

Tirana, 30 June 2017A regional workshop to introduce UNICEF’s Teacher Preparation Toolkit on inclusive education as the basis for reforming pre-service teacher education has concluded today in Tirana. During the last two days, the inclusive education theme has gathered teachers and educators from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Serbia and Tajikistan to discuss how best university programmes can prepare teachers on inclusive education. 

Despite ongoing reforms, Albania’s under-resourced education system is struggling to improve equity and quality. Children face many barriers to school participation and learning. Inclusive education seeks to address the diverse learning needs of all children. This is further supported by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that all children have the right to receive the kind of education that does not discriminate on the basis of disability, ethnicity, language, gender or capabilities. 

The workshop has helped teachers and education specialists reflect on bringing theory, research and practice on Inclusive Education together, in the respective country-specific policy context, and to agree on a common path forward for implementation through reforming pre-service teacher training on Inclusive Education. 

Inclusive Education is not only about processes such as teacher training, but it involves a shift in underlying values and beliefs, along with specific approaches, positions, and solutions to put into practice a  broad concept that includes all groups of children. Inclusive education as defined in the Salamanca Statement,  adopted at the 1994 World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality, promotes the “recognition of the need to work towards ‘schools for all’ − institutions which celebrate differences, support learning and respond to individual needs.”

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General Comment provides guidance for the 166 States that have ratified the Convention on meeting their obligations under Article 24, under which “States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life-long learning.” “Placing students with disabilities in mainstream classes without accompanying structural changes to, for example, organization, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies, does not constitute inclusion,” the document states. 

Inclusive education “focuses on the full and effective participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those who, for different reasons, are excluded or are at risk of being marginalized.”  

“UNICEF will continue to work to ensure that children at risk of being excluded from education are targeted appropriately by national education systems with appropriate public policies, human and financial resources, in line with the United Nations Child Rights Convention and the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is the responsibility of Government to ensure that the education system caters to the needs of every child through a well-resourced and informed inclusive education approach, that aims to achieve that every child   receives a quality education in line with Sustainable Development Goal 5” says Antonella Scolamiero, UNICEF Representative in Albania.

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