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Article

Examining the Cost of Special Education  

Joanne Banks

Internationally, debates about how students with disabilities are resourced in mainstream education are complex. Spiraling costs have resulted in many funding systems calling for ‘cost control’ or systems of accountability for how funding and resources are distributed. Although inclusive education policies have created closer links between general and ‘special education’, the funding mechanisms underlying these systems still tend to remain administratively separate. The reasons for this are often historical but also relate to the consistently higher cost associated with resourcing students with disabilities compared to their peers in mainstream education. The increase in the number of students with disabilities now means that many countries are struggling to keep these costs within budget while maintaining inclusive education practices. A tension exists between those who think that students with disabilities are under-resourced, with a possible crisis emerging as schools try to cope with the increased demands, and others who argue that inclusive education cannot be achieved by simply increasing funds. The latter group focuses on the quality of leadership and the teaching staff in schools that brings about inclusive practices. The type of funding mechanism is important, and is closely linked to inclusive education. Research shows that the way in which funding and resources are allocated to students with additional needs in mainstream schools can impact the prevalence of students with a disability and inclusive practices in that school. There is little or no consensus on the most inclusive or cost-effective funding model. As a result, reform of existing models continues across different national contexts. This high level of activity is often related to a growing awareness by governments of the financial incentives and disincentives of various funding models, concern over the rising costs of special education, and the need to fulfill policy commitments to inclusive education. Internationally, funding is allocated in various ways. Input funding has traditionally been the most common funding model used, in which students with disabilities or their parents receive individualized funding according to the type of need or level of support required. The increasing prevalence of students with disabilities in mainstream education, associated rising costs of resourcing these students, and the high administrative burden of individual assessment, diagnosis, and support have led to the use of various systems that replace the sole use of input funding in mainstream education. Throughput funding is now the most commonly used funding model and is often used alongside a smaller input system. In the throughput model, block grants are provided to schools or local authorities based on certain weighted characteristics, such as the sociodemographic profile of the school or area. The output funding model, based on student achievement or learner outcomes, is often part of a funding formula in which student achievement is recognized. Each funding model has advantages and disadvantages and all claim to support inclusive education. Often forgotten in this funding debate, however, is the cost and role played by other forms of provision, such as special classes and schools. This is despite an increase in this type of segregated provision in countries with otherwise inclusive education. Critics of the continued use of segregative settings argue that they serve as an escape route for students with disabilities in systems that are struggling to implement inclusive practices in mainstream education.

Article

Financing Mechanisms to Support Inclusive Practice  

Serge Ebersold, Edda Óskarsdóttir, and Amanda Watkins

Financing plays a critical role in achieving more inclusive education systems, and most European countries are considering how the way they fund education impacts the policy goal of more inclusive practice in schools. The way financing is determined in laws and regulations has a direct impact on decision-making and implementation in relation to identifying learners’ educational needs, diagnostic and assessment procedures that might be used. Crucially it impacts on the placement of learners in different types of provision, including separate special classes or special schools. Financing inclusive education systems differs from financing special needs education in several important ways. In addition to providing shared educational opportunities for learners with recognised additional needs with their peers in mainstream settings, financing inclusive education systems aims to enable all learners to gain access to the educational support they are legally entitled to. Financing inclusive education systems is also far more complex than financing general education as it relates to a multilevel and multi-stakeholder framework of policy and provision that includes non-educational aspects of educational provision that are needed to ensure all learners access to high-quality inclusive education. These non-educational aspects may cover factors such as accessibility of the physical environment, specialist support, different resources for reducing the functional consequences of different disabilities, as well as financial support for families in meeting the direct and indirect costs of education. Effective mechanisms for financing inclusive education systems entail the provision of additional funding and resources that encourage mainstream schools to develop inclusive education policies, as well as innovative and flexible learning environments that meet a wider range of learners’ academic and social needs and requirements. A higher amount of funding does not in itself guarantee better learning conditions; the successful implementation of inclusive education policies depends on how funds are allocated and to whom the funds are addressed, rather than solely on how much money is available. Effective inclusive education systems build upon funding mechanisms and strategies that consider and manage the deployment and manipulation of resources at the school level, governance mechanisms, capacity building, and school development approaches. All these strategies must be targeted at achieving the policy goal of more inclusive practice in all schools.

Article

Gendered Concerns of Improved Female Participation in Indian Higher Education  

Mona Khare

Gender gaps in education and training are already shown to be having far-reaching effects on women’s economic participation. These are only likely to grow in the new era of knowledge-centric economies. Specific efforts at mainstreaming women in this new age through their inclusion in higher levels of education and skills training are imperative. The situation in India is more complex given its rising numbers and increasing diversities on campuses, with sociocultural and regional connotations adding to existing biases. The data on the status and trends reveal gender disparity in higher education in India in explicit and implicit forms further reflecting on women’s work participation. The disparities are more explicitly visible when seen through the adverse graduate population ratio, a long-existing adverse female participation ratio more particularly in certain streams/courses and implicitly through their career progression, and an adverse female employment ratio in the majority of Indian states. The policy focus so far has been on gender-targeted initiatives and expenditures to increase female access and enrollment in higher education. As a result, while gender gaps in access have closed, higher education spaces remain gendered with poor and biased labor-market outcomes. The interventions need to be made at three levels: gender equality in technical, vocational, and job-oriented education; gender balance in elite institutions; and gender sensitization and services within and outside campuses. The focus needs to align with equal opportunity initiatives and expenditures. There is also a need for region-specific interventions through spatial mapping at a subnational level and a greater focus on understanding the concepts, issues, and processes of gender balancing in higher education.

Article

Governance in Higher Education  

Jung C. Shin and Glen A. Jones

Governance has become a commonly used and studied concept within the scholarship of higher education, in large part because the term is defined broadly to include the relationships between institutions and the state, the development of system-level policies and the influence of external stakeholders, as well as institutional decision-making arrangements and structures. The concept is therefore understood as involving both multiple levels of power and authority and multiple agents and actors. It has increasingly been used as an umbrella concept in the analysis of major policy changes and reforms that are central to the study of higher education, including funding, quality assurance, and accountability. Neoliberalism and the adoption of New Public Management have transformed the governance structures and arrangements within many systems by valorizing the role of markets, strengthening the role of institutional managers as the state-centered systems decentralize elements of authority, focusing attention on institutional performance measures, and linking performance to state funding mechanisms. Government coordination of higher education has become increasing complex given the development of multiple institutional types (institutional diversity) and the positioning of higher education as a core component of national research and innovation systems. In many systems, coordination now includes multiple agencies. Institution-level governance has also been transformed in many jurisdictions with structural arrangements that reinforce the importance of central management operating under the oversight of a corporate board representing external interests and stakeholders. There has been a general decline in the influence and authority associated with traditional collegial decision processes. Research has highlighted challenges related to the understanding of governance effectiveness and the relationship between governance reform and institutional performance. There has also been an increasing interest in comparative international scholarship to identify common trends, although there is also an increasing recognition of how governance has been influenced by differences in the history, traditions, and sociopolitical contexts of national systems. A multitude of issues are deserving of greater attention within governance scholarship, including the influence of major political shifts within national governments, international rankings, and the quest for the improvement of institutional performance on system- and institution-level governance.

Article

Higher Education Equity and Justice  

Ulpukka Isopahkala-Bouret

The higher education (HE) equity and social justice agenda is primarily concerned with inequalities in the participation of underrepresented groups. The main purpose of this agenda is to widen access to the social privileges that HE offers. Transnational policy agencies and national governments have advised higher education institutions (HEIs) to deploy relevant indicators and implement inclusive practices, such as financial assistance, nondiscriminatory admission mechanisms, and student guidance and counseling. HEIs have also been funded to provide outreach and widening participation programs in several countries. In the early 21st century, the conceptualization of HE equity and justice has broadened from fair access to more holistic, procedural, and intersectional approaches. Still, the lack of reliable, relevant, and feasible policy indicators and data make it a challenging objective to measure and follow up. Furthermore, research has pointed out the need for contextualized definitions of equity and justice because the specific social and cultural challenges differ from one country to another. Equity and justice manifest themselves in the broader design of national and regional HE systems. Some HE systems have stronger institutional stratification and financial barriers than others, hence restraining the fairness of access and social inclusion. The application of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological theory has dominated much of the research on structural constraints of HE equity and justice. An understanding of the connection between structure/agency and the cultural reproduction opens up new avenues for the development of HE equity and justice in both policy and practice.

Article

Higher Education in China  

Jin Jiang

China’s higher education system witnessed quite a few dramatic institutional changes in recent years. The state has been making a series of attempts to increase the quantity of higher education opportunities through massive expanding of higher education’s capacity (also referred to as the massification of higher education). Meanwhile, the system experienced marketization and privatization, in which the funding for higher education institutions (HEIs) increasingly depends on the non-state sector and student payments for tuition fees. The private (minban) HEIs and Sino-foreign HEIs began to develop in China. With a strong conviction to enhance the global competitiveness of top universities, master plans for developing world-class universities and disciplines were initiated, and talent programs were adopted to attract global high-skilled talent to HEIs in China to enhance the teaching and research capability of HEIs. In recent years, HEIs have been granted larger institutional autonomy with greater accountability. Higher education in China has experienced dramatic institutional changes in recent years and has made great achievements and gained international acclaim. Given such capacity, HEIs became one of the largest systems in the world. More and more higher education opportunities have been provided for students, and an increasing number of leading scholars in the world have been attracted to HEIs in China. However, the development of higher education has encountered several challenges—in particular, unequal opportunities for higher education attainment, difficulties for college graduates in finding employment, and the unequal development of higher education among disciplines, between universities, and across regions. Critical reflections on the development of higher education in China and the notion of broadly defined educational equality are required.

Article

Historical Development of Lesson Study in Japan  

Kanako N. Kusanagi

Lesson study (jyugyo kenkyu) is an approach to professional development that originated in Japan 150 years ago. It was first introduced to the United States in the late 1990s and is now widely practiced in over 50 countries. Lesson study is often perceived as an effective form of professional development aiming to improve mathematics and science instruction, motivated by the high performances of Japanese students as evaluated in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). However, lesson study is more than a model for professional development. Lesson study has developed dynamically over time, accommodating educational contexts and the needs of practitioners, policymakers, and researchers. Nowadays, lesson study is used as an approach to lesson analysis, curriculum development, practice-oriented research, demonstration lessons, and various forms and levels of professional development. Lesson study continues to be practiced in the early 21st century as the practice is socially constructed and context-dependent; thus, lesson study is flexible in adapting to the local system. This flexibility and adaptability make it difficult to grasp the comprehensive picture of lesson study. Understanding the unique Japanese educational contexts that have supported lesson study is essential for foreign practitioners and researchers of lesson study as the lack of the necessary supporting conditions often poses challenges for implementing lesson study abroad. Lesson study continues to exist in the early 21st century as it has been facilitated by sociocultural norms in a Japanese educational context and has built upon the professional traditions of Japanese teachers. The focus is on discussing the sociocultural contexts that have supported the dynamic development of lesson study since the late 19th century. For this purpose, “sociocultural” refers to the theoretical space of social relations and cultural practice (Dowling, 2009). For example, a collaborative school culture is not a fixed state or end-product but negotiated through the social relations of the school system that regulates the daily responsibilities, actions, and interactions among managers, teachers, and students around the shared goals. Lesson study has developed under the influence of various factors, including educational theories, approaches, and ideologies, both domestically and abroad. Lesson study is supported by a holistic approach in terms of many aspects such as student learning, teacher-initiated inquiry centered on student learning, the culture of collaboration in professional development, collaboration between teachers and researchers, personal, contextual, and narrative reflection on teaching experience, and flexibility in the learning system that works to address the needs of the educational issues of the time. Nonetheless, contesting forces have contributed to the diversification of lesson study: (a) policymakers’ efforts to standardize lessons and bottom-up initiatives of teachers to experiment with practice; (b) top-down efforts to institutionalize professional development and bottom-up efforts on the part of teachers to work together to realize their educational ideals; and (c) scientific investigation by researchers and narrative, descriptive and subjective reflections on practice by teachers.

Article

History and Social Studies Curriculum  

E. Wayne Ross

Social studies education has had a turbulent history as one of the core subjects in the school curriculum. The fundamental content of the social studies curriculum – the study of human enterprise across space and time –however, has always been at the core of educational endeavors. It is generally accepted that the formal introduction of social studies to the school curriculum was instigated by the 1916 report of the National Education Association’s Committee on Social Studies, which emphasized development of citizenship values as a core aim of history and social science education. Earlier commissions of the N.E.A. and American Historical Association heavily influenced the Committee on Social Studies recommendations. The roots of the contemporary social studies curriculum, therefore, can be traced to two distinct curriculum reform efforts: the introduction of academic history into the curriculum and citizenship education. There is widespread agreement that the aim of social studies is citizenship education, that is the preparation of young people so that they possess the knowledge, skills, and values necessary for active participation in society. This apparent consensus, however, has been described as almost meaningless because social studies educators continue to be at odds over curricular content as well as the conception of what it means to be a good citizen. Since its formal introduction into the school, social studies curriculum been the subject of numerous commission and blue-ribbon panel studies, ranging from the sixteen-volume report of the American Historical Association’s Commission on Social Studies in the 1930s to the more recent movement for national curriculum standards. Separate and competing curriculum standards have been published for no less than seven areas of that are part of the social studies curriculum: United States and global history, economics, geography, civics, psychology, and social studies. Social studies curriculum is defined a lack of consensus and has been an ideological battleground with ongoing debates over its nature, purpose, and content. Historically there have been a diverse range of curricular programs that have been a prominent within social studies education at various times, including the life adjustment movement, progressive education, social reconstructionism, and nationalistic history. The debate over the nature, purpose, and content of the social studies curriculum continues today, with competing groups variously arguing for a social issues approach, the disciplinary study of history and geography, or action for social justice as the most appropriate framework for the social studies curriculum.

Article

Interdisciplinary Expansion and the History of Education in Sweden  

Johannes Westberg

The field of the history of education in Sweden has distinct features, yet also shares common characteristics with the history of education in other countries. As elsewhere, it has developed from being a field mainly occupied by schoolmen in the early 20th century to a research field firmly entrenched in the humanities and social sciences from the 1960s and onward. Like in other countries, the topics and theoretical frameworks have multiplied, making the history of education into a broad field of research. There are, however, several features that stand out in an international context. Most important, the history of education in Sweden has expanded in terms of active researchers and output since the early 2000s due to the favorable conditions in Swedish higher education presented in this article. It has also never developed into a discipline of its own but instead has remained multidisciplinary, with a strong base in the disciplines of education and history. As a result, the history of education in Sweden has remained quite independent from the international field. While it is certainly possible to identify the impact of various international trends, including those of the new cultural history of education, the history of education in Sweden is marked by the disciplines that it is part of. From this follows that this national field is less determined by international associations, conferences and journals, and the so-called turns that one might identify in these. Instead, it is the Swedish context of educational research, Swedish curriculum theory, social history, economic history, history education, sociology of education, and child studies that provide the history of education in Sweden with a character of its own—that is, a field with research groups, conferences, workshops, and a journal that encompasses several research fields.

Article

The Impact on French Upper Secondary Schools of Reforms Aiming to Improve Students’ Transition to Higher Education  

Clement Pin and Agnès van Zanten

For a long time, the French education system has been characterized by strong institutional disconnection between secondary education (enseignement secondaire) and higher education (enseignement supérieur). This situation has nevertheless started to change over the last 20 years as the “need-to-adapt” argument has been widely used to push for three sets of interrelated reforms with the official aim of improving student flows to, and readiness for, higher education (HE). The first reforms relate to the end-of-upper-secondary-school baccalauréat qualification and were carried out in two waves. The second set of reforms concerns educational guidance for transition from upper secondary school to HE, including widening participation policies targeting socially disadvantaged youths. Finally, the third set has established a national digital platform, launched in 2009, to manage and regulate HE applications and admissions. These reforms with strong neoliberal leanings have nevertheless been implemented within a system that remains profoundly conservative. Changes to the baccalauréat, to educational guidance, and to the HE admissions system have made only minor alterations to the conservative system of hierarchical tracks, both at the level of the lycée (upper secondary school) and in HE, thus strongly weakening their potential effects. Moreover, the reforms themselves combine neoliberal discourse and decisions with other perspectives and approaches aiming to preserve and even reinforce this conservative structure. This discrepancy is evident in the conflicting aims ascribed both to guidance and to the new online application and admissions platform, expected, on the one hand, to raise students’ ambitions and give them greater latitude to satisfy their wishes but also, on the other hand, to help them make “rational” choices in light of both their educational abilities and trajectories and their existing HE provision and job prospects. This mixed ideological and structural landscape is also the result of a significant gap in France between policy intentions and implementation at a local level, especially in schools. Several factors are responsible for this discrepancy: the fact that in order to ward off criticism and protest, reforms are often couched in very abstract terms open to multiple interpretations; the length and complexity of the reform circuit in a centralized educational system; the lack of administrative means through which to oversee implementation; teachers’ capacity to resist reform, both individually and collectively. This half-conservative, half-liberal educational regime is likely to increase inequalities across social and ethnoracial lines for two main reasons. The first is that the potential benefits of “universal” neoliberal policies promising greater choice and opportunity for all—and even of policies directly targeting working-class and ethnic minority students, such as widening participation schemes—are frequently only reaped by students in academic tracks, with a good school record, who are mostly upper- or middle-class and White. The second is that, under the traditional conservative regime, in addition to being the victims of these students’ advantages and strategies, working-class students also continue to be channeled and chartered toward educational tracks and then jobs located at the bottom of the educational and social hierarchy.

Article

Inclusion and Migration  

Oakleigh Welply

In a context of globalization and increased mobility, migration has brought new societal challenges to nation-states, raising questions about how countries can promote inclusion within contexts of increased diversity. Education occupies a central yet paradoxical place in this process. On the one hand, schools’ failure to be fully inclusive of new forms of diversity is decried as a cause of violence and fragmentation in society. On the other hand, schools are invested with the role of including and socializing individuals from diverse backgrounds for future participation in society. There is little agreement on how this can best be achieved. Central to these questions are the ways in which educational systems can engage with increasing diversity, be it new movements of people, new forms of communication, and networks, or more complex forms of identity. These present new challenges in terms of educational policy and practice, locally, nationally, and globally. Young migrants face multiple barriers to inclusion, such as underachievement, discrimination, and segregation. In order to fully engage with these challenges, global and national policies need to be considered alongside institutional structures, the role of key stakeholders (teachers, support staff, parents, local community members), and the experience of young immigrants.

Article

Inclusive and Special Education in Africa  

Mirna Nel

Africa is associated with Ubuntu values such as inclusiveness and treating others with fairness and human dignity. Such values align with human rights and social justice principles and are also integral to a social approach to inclusive education. However, there are several contextual and interconnected dynamics—environmental, cultural, and systemic—which impact on education systems and must be acknowledged when considering inclusive and special education. Several global developments have been endorsed and ratified by most African countries, such as the Education for All campaign, the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, the Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, the Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action for the implementation of the SDG 4 framework, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Furthermore, due to an African renaissance in the building of human capital since the 19th century, education policies and practices are also transforming to address the specific needs of the African context. Human rights and social justice are sanctioned as basic principles of education by the majority of African countries. Great strides have consequently been made in the development of education policies to address the inclusive education drive. However, the emphasis in these education policies seems to be on integrating students with special needs or disabilities into public education, mainly by placing them in separate units or classes attached to mainstream schools, or in special schools. It is therefore essential that, within the Ubuntu approach of everyone belonging to a greater community, both local communities and wider society make a commitment wherein interactive political, cultural, social, environmental, and systemic dynamics influencing learning, as well as causing learning breakdown, are acknowledged and addressed. A focus on the individual child as a problem to be remediated and segregated from mainstream society and education should therefore be rejected. Consequently, The education community (including governments, education departments, local education offices, schools, teachers, parents, and learners) must regularly come together to reflect and develop in-depth understanding of the philosophy, theory, terminology, and practice of inclusive education within the African context, which should then reflect in specific developed policies and consequent practices.

Article

Inclusive and Special Education in Asia  

Maya Kalyanpur

Any analysis of inclusive and special education in Asia, past and present, must account for the immense variation in what constitutes Asia and recognize that finding patterns in the development of inclusive and special education across this vast continent is difficult. The variations relate to geographic topography, historical experiences, and cultural values, as well as to contemporary socio-economic and political conditions. For example, although both Oman and Timor Leste struggle with issues of accessibility and providing services in remote areas, Timor Leste’s mountainous terrain presents very different challenges from Oman’s desert conditions. Similarly, the different cultural influences of, say, Hinduism in Nepal, Islam in Jordan, and Buddhism in Cambodia have significant implications for attitudes towards disability, while differences in economic development between Japan and Bangladesh, for instance, have rendered the former a donor of international aid that sets the inclusive education agenda and the latter a recipient of both aid and agenda. While efforts to identify patterns in inclusive education globally have also attempted to define the nature of development in Asia, these analyses do not always account for the unique intra-continental variations. Overlooking these variations in socio-political and economic contexts becomes problematic when attempting to find solutions towards providing culturally responsive and culturally specific services appropriate to these unique circumstances. Additionally troubling is the more recent development of a geopolitical climate which assumes that inclusive and special education could and should, in fact, be the same, whether in Bangladesh or in Japan. Embodied by international aid agencies, such as the World Bank, the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), these expectations have been captured within global policies, such as the 1994 Salamanca Statement on Inclusive Education, the 2008 UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and more recently, the 2015 Millennium Sustainable Goals, and furthered through UNICEF’s and UNESCO’s curriculum packages and professional development training on inclusive education. There is a nascent body of scholars in some Asian countries that is beginning to identify indigenous alternatives, which, if allowed to thrive, could contribute to the development of an amalgamated structure of services that would be more appropriate to the individual contexts.

Article

Inclusive and Special Education in Australia  

Michael Arthur-Kelly and Phil Foreman

Australian public education systems have developed policies since the 1980s and 1990s which have placed a major focus on inclusive educational practices. Despite this progress, Australia has witnessed the growth of parallel and sometimes competing systems of support for students with additional learning needs. It is helpful to view these approaches across one unified continuum of assistance for students. At one end of the continuum there are special schools which provide intensive and specialized learning support, coming within the traditional definition of “special education.” At the other end of the continuum is the full inclusion of students within regular classrooms, complemented by appropriate personalized learning supports. The inclusive approach is based on a philosophical platform that emphasizes the role of the local school in providing for the needs of all students in its community, regardless of diverse needs or disability. A unified view of educational provisions needs to consider the entire range of approaches from full inclusion through to specialized and alternative models of educational services and support, guided by one simple question: What is best for this learner? Principles such as universal design for learning (UDL) lead to an argument for a focus on individual needs and parental empowerment and choice, rather than an outdated dichotomous or settings-based model of educational support. By focusing attention on learning needs through the lens of curriculum, instruction, and contextual supports, the central goal of maximized outcomes for individual students can be realized.

Article

Inclusive and Special Education in the Middle East  

Hala Elhoweris and Efthymia Efthymiou

In the culturally diverse Middle Eastern Arabian world, there are incompatible ideas about and definitions of “inclusion” and “inclusive education,” which result in these terms being multifaceted and complex. The issues surrounding policies, the legislative frameworks—but also the attitudes and practices and their implications for individuals with Special Educational Needs and Disorders (SEND)—are explored in this paper, starting with some consideration of the official guidelines for providing inclusive education and how these are enacted according to the social or local conceptualizations that influence practice. Around the world, the tendency is to support special needs in mainstream classes with other children at all school levels in order to prevent marginalization, labeling, and social stigmatization. However, in the process of developing effective educational policies that benefit students with SEND in practice, it is useful to consider whether inclusion actually serves their needs. Though some progress has been reported in the social integration and inclusion of individuals with SEND, more light needs to be shed on whether, under current circumstances inclusion does indeed benefit people with special needs and disabilities. An analysis of the necessary parameters for supporting a learning environment for the benefit of all children in an inclusive mainstream class is necessary. The examination of inclusion-based practices can help to dispel the misconceptions that consistently surround the practice of educating students with disabilities in any inclusive environment. Recommendations are made for community-oriented sensitization programs and education campaigns but also school-based disability awareness programs and teacher training that could be promoted by governmental organizations, human rights bodies, and other stakeholders in the Arab world to support and empower people with disabilities.

Article

Inclusive Educational Principles, Policies, and Practices in Italy  

Paola Aiello and Erika Marie Pace

The Italian education system has gained prominence worldwide thanks to its pioneering history in initiating the process of mainstreaming students with disabilities, in providing educational plans tailored to students’ needs, and in the gradual broadening of the vision of inclusion as a means to guarantee quality education for all. At the same time, teacher education programs have reinvigorated their key role in preparing and supporting teachers who are inclusive of all students. Several factors over the past 50 years have been fundamental in shaping the way inclusion is perceived in the 21st century. First, the theoretical frameworks underpinning pedagogy and teaching practices have undergone a complete paradigm shift from an individualized-medical model to a biopsychosocial model, bringing about a new challenge for all stakeholders involved. Second, in line with this evolution, latest reforms and ministerial provisions in initial teacher education and continuous professional development are evidence of the change in perspective regarding the teachers’ pivotal role in promoting and facilitating inclusive practices. However, this shift has not only called for a rethinking of the teachers’ pedagogical and didactic stances. It has also entailed a reconsideration of the necessary professional competencies, understood as a complex interplay of pedagogical knowledge, values, attitudes, and skills to be able to implement effective teaching methods and strategies that favor inclusion. Thus, it has placed a heavy responsibility on teacher education institutions to ensure that current and future teachers are ready, willing, and able to face the complexity characterizing 21st-century classrooms. Italian schools have also been doing their utmost to ensure better school experiences for all their students. An array of projects, both ministerially funded and school-based schemes, have been designed and implemented to create universally functional curricula to meet all the students’ learning styles and promote inclusion. One of the most important lessons to be learned from these intricate developments and initiatives is that collaboration among all stakeholders on micro, meso, and macro levels lies at the heart of effective and sustainable inclusive education.

Article

Inclusive Education and the Progressive Inclusionists  

Christopher Boyle and Joanna Anderson

Since 1994 the Salamanca Statement has been pivotal in encouraging nations to move toward inclusive education. Much progress has been made, yet the question must be asked if inclusive education has now plateaued. Inclusive education can be compared to a bicycle, where momentum powers it forward and it must continually move in order to stay upright. Along with movement, there also needs to be a clear direction of travel. Movement for the sake of movement will not bode well. If full inclusion is to succeed as a universal reality, not just an admirable goal, then it must become clear how to push the majority of countries forward, thus achieving full inclusion for most rather than a few. In many countries the reality of the principles of inclusive education are not reflected in everyday schooling. There have been many successes in inclusive education over many years in many countries, and these should be celebrated. Many consider full inclusion to be an over-reach by inclusivists, with most countries not achieving full inclusion; however, others argue that it is still attainable. From this point, where can the inclusion movement go? Has it, in effect, reached the end of its journey—like a bicycle with no rider, which eventually will fall over?

Article

Inclusive Education as a Human Right  

Ignacio Calderón-Almendros and Gerardo Echeita-Sarrionandia

Inclusive education has been internationally recognized as a fundamental human right for all, without exception. This international recognition seeks to address the dramatic inequality in current societies, since the enjoyment of the right to education for many disadvantaged people depends on it being inclusive. The recognition and enjoyment of this right requires a detailed analysis of the meaning and scope of inclusive education, as well as of the barriers and the main challenges faced. The consideration of inclusive education as a right, with its moral and legal implications, has been achieved to a large extent thanks to the political impact of diverse association movements of people with (dis)abilities. Paradoxically, many students with disabilities continue to be systematically segregated into special schools and classrooms, which violates their right to inclusive education. There is therefore much to learn from this contradiction. A lot also needs to be done to ensure the equal dignity and rights of people that experience exclusion and segregation associated with gender, social class, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, ability, etc. To this end, it is important to conceptually delimit the neoliberal domestication of a profoundly transformative term. The historical evolution of the recognition of inclusive education as a human right needs to be understood. There is also a need to consider the strength of the scientific evidence supporting it in order to counter certain views that question its relevance, despite them having been soundly refuted. Untangling these knots enables a more situated and realistic analysis to address some of the problems to be tackled in the implementation of inclusive education. This is a social and political endeavor that must break away from the market-oriented logic in education systems. It involves accepting that it is a fundamental right to be guaranteed through collective responsibility.

Article

Indigenous School Education in Brazil  

Roseli R. Mello, Marcondy M. de Souza, and Thaís J. Palomino

Self-determination of the original peoples of any nation, preservation of their territories, preservation of traditions, and negotiation of customs facing national cultures are central themes in the debate about and among indigenous peoples in the world. School education is directly linked to such themes as an instrument of acculturation or self-determination and emancipation. As in other countries of the globe, throughout history, what happened and is happening in Brazil is not isolated fact. Current conditions are the product of colonization processes, the development of industrial society, and more recently of globalization. Such historical processes bring struggles, confrontations, transformations, and solidarity. In the legal sphere, international conventions, declarations, and treaties have influenced more or less directly the norms and laws on the subject: from the papal bull and treaties between colonizing kingdoms, to the Declaration of Human Rights, to Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization, the Brazilian indigenous issue, like that of many other countries, is also based on, supported by, or held back by actions, debates, and international interests. But what makes the case of Brazil worthy of relevance for thinking about indigenous education? Two elements make up an answer: the specific way the governors establish relations with the original peoples, and the fact that Brazil has the greatest diversity of indigenous communities.

Article

Influence of Medical and Social Perspectives of Disability on Models of Inclusive Education in the United States  

David Connor and Louis Olander

Ideological disputes about what human differences constitute disabilities undergird two very distinct positions that are known as medical and social models of disability. The positions significantly impact how inclusive education is envisioned and enacted, with proponents of each model holding fast to what they believe is “best” for students. Related areas of significant dissension among the two viewpoints include: (a) the concept of disability and “appropriate” placement of students deemed disabled, (b) the purpose of schools, (c) the nature of teaching and learning, (d) a teacher’s roles, (e) the notion of student success and failure, and (f) perceptions of social justice and disability. These interconnected and sometimes overlapping areas convey how medical or social models of inclusive education can vary dramatically, depending upon an educator’s general ideological disposition toward disability or difference.