1.4.3 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

UNESCO leads the global Education for All movement, aimed at meeting the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015.24 UNESCO promotes the ultimate goal of inclusive education, which it views as a means to ensure a quality education for all and to achieve wider social inclusion goals. Key policy documents and agreements that UNESCO has developed and facilitated include:

UNESCO promotes the development of inclusive schools; that is, schools that “accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic or other conditions."28 It views inclusive education not as a synonym for special needs education or integration techniques, but an “as an on-going process in an ever-evolving education system, focusing on those currently excluded from accessing education, as well as those who are in school but not learning.”29

In developing countries, many educational systems struggle to provide a quality education in mainstream schools and favour the development of special needs schools. Worldwide, many countries have developed a two-tier educational system composed of mainstream and special needs schools. UNESCO advocates that whereever possible, children with disabilities should be accommodated in inclusive schools, which it promotes as being more cost-effective and which lead to a more inclusive society. 




26UNESCO Policy guidelines on Inclusive Education http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf


28(Article 3, Salamanca Framework for Action)

29 UNESCO 2008 “UNESCO 48th International Conference on Education – Reference document” available at http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf For further discussion on the differences between integration, special needs and inclusive education see page 8