7.3 UNESCO Initiatives

UNESCO leads the global Education for All movement, aiming to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. UNESCO promotes the ultimate goal of inclusive education, which it views as a means to ensuring a quality education for all and to achieving wider social inclusion goals.

In its “Guidelines for inclusion: Ensuring Access to Education for All” UNESCO defines inclusive educations as

“…a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children”.168

UNESCO also promotes effective use of ICTs that are “accessible, adaptive and affordable.”169 It views the empowerment of persons with disabilities through effective use of ICTs as

“…not a charity, but the fulfillment of fundamental human rights as stated in 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, highlighting that “all human beings are born free and equal in rights and dignity.”170

UNESCO promotes empowering persons with disabilities through ICTs as a means of effective participation in inclusive education, culture, science and the enjoyment of human rights and social inclusion (Figure 7.1). (See the UNESCO document Empowering Persons with Disabilities through ICTs for more on UNESCO’s view on the interrelationship between accessible ICTs, inclusive education and human rights.)

Figure 7.1 Accessible ICTs enabling education, science, culture and communication

Source: UNESCO

UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education 2009171

UNESCO’s Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education 2009 state that inclusive education “is a process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners, and can be thus understood as a key strategy to achieve EFA”.172 The three main motivators for inclusive education are:

  • • Educational: Inclusive schools, in which all children are educated together, develop ways of teaching that respond to individual differences and so benefit all children.
  • • Social: Inclusive schools foster positive attitudes towards diversity and form the basis of a just and non-discriminatory society.
  • • Economic: It is more cost effective to establish schools that educate all children together than to set up complex systems of different types of schools specializing in different groups of children.

One of the main areas of policy concern in the guidelines relates to the education and continuous professional development of teachers, many of whom are unfamiliar with the potential use of ICTs and may be unaware of how accessible ICTs can be used to assist students with disabilities in the classroom.

168UNESCO, Guidelines for inclusion: Ensuring Access to Education for All, Paris, UNESCO, 2005.

169UNESCO, “Empowering Persons with Disabilities through ICTs”, 2009, available at http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001847/184704e.pdf

170Ibid (footnote 169)

171UNESCO Policy guidelines on Inclusive Education

172UNESCO Guidelines for Inclusive Education, page 8