7.3.1 Salamanca Declaration and inclusive schools

In 1994, UNESCO organized an international conference to consider the “fundamental policy shifts required to promote the approach of inclusive education, namely enabling schools to serve all children, particularly those with special educational needs.” The Conference adopted the “Salamanca Statement on Principles, Policy and Practice in Special Needs Education and a Framework for Action,” known by shorthand as the Salamanca Declaration, which was endorsed by 92 countries.173 According to the Declaration, inclusive education requires that:

… Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children, children from remote or nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups.”174

While many countries have well-established schools providing for the educational needs of children with specific impairments, the Declaration strongly recommends that , where countries have few or no special schools, efforts should be concentrated “on the development of inclusive schools and the specialized services needed to enable them to serve the vast majority of children and youth – especially provision of teacher training in special needs education and the establishment of suitably staffed and equipped resource centers to which schools could turn for support.” When thus established, inclusive schools are more cost effective than maintaining a two-tier system of education.


174The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, para 3.