4 Developing and implementing accessible, ICT-connected schools

“Ensuring that children with disabilities enjoy opportunities for learning in an inclusive environment requires changes in attitude, backed by investment in teacher training and learning equipment”. Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2010102

The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities contains very specific guidance on the rights of persons with disabilities to enjoy equal access to education, job training and employment. The Convention places a particular emphasis on the provision of accessible ICTs as a key enabler to the enjoyment of these rights. Any policy to implement accessible ICTs in connected schools should be developed within the framework of the Convention, and should be based on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) principles, actions and targets, with due regard to national and regional conditions.

In Section 1 and Section 2, inclusive education – the enrollment of children in mainstream classrooms --was shown to offer a cost-effective approach to reaching the large numbers of children with disabilities in developing countries. Inherent in inclusive education is the notion that reforms and improvements should not only focus on children with disabilities but on “whole-school improvement in order to remove barriers that prevent learning for all students.”103 This section outlines good practices in policy development for the introduction of accessible ICTs in connected schools. It provides principles and elements that can be incorporated into educational policy reforms in any developing country.

Inclusive education cannot be built and delivered all at one time.104 To develop sensible and practical policy that is properly embedded into the educational and assistive technology (AT) environment of a country, policy-makers must consider how to transition from their current model to an inclusive model. This will involve considering the development of a national-level statement of principles, intentions, means, objectives and timetables relating to the provision of accessible ICTS in inclusive schools. Evidence-based policy on the successful provision and use of ICTs will require identifying the gaps as they currently exist; research into the current landscape is critical.

102http://www.unesco.org/en/efareport page 12

103Global eSchools and Community Initiative (GeSCI). 2007. Concept note: Developing a model for inclusive education and assistive technology appropriate for teaching and learning contexts in developing countries. Available at http://www.gesci.org/old/files/docman/model_ie_at.pdf

104Lynch, P. (2007) External Trends on Education. (Sightsavers international (internal document). Cited in GeSCI page 6.