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Article

Shaping Sustainable Inclusion Policy Through Practice  

Richard Rose

The challenge of providing education that is inclusive and seen as equitable for all children is one that has exercised policy makers and education professionals in most countries throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. International agreements such as UNESCO’s 1990 Jomtien Declaration and 1994 Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education were instrumental in promoting debate about the rights of children who were denied access to an appropriate schooling and who, in some instances, had no opportunity to obtain any formal education. The Education for All Goals, which were used to prioritize the development of universal primary education, and more recently the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Education Goals, which reiterated a commitment to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” (Goal 4), have increased the focus upon developing inclusive education. This has encouraged governments around the world to re-examine the ways in which they provide schooling for their children and young people. With such a plethora of initiatives, agreements, and advice, it is only to be expected that most national administrations have felt it necessary to respond and to demonstrate that they are taking action towards improving educational opportunities for all. However, the relationship between policy and practice is complex; and in some instances, the development of legislation has failed to provide increased equity in the manner that was intended. This article considers two distinctly different routes towards achieving inclusive education and discusses those factors that have either supported or inhibited success. In drawing upon examples from current developments in India, it additionally proposes that researchers who conduct investigations in international contexts should invest time in understanding underlying policy and cultural and historical factors that may impact upon the ways in which we interpret meaning from data.

Article

Historical Developments, Influences of International Actors, and Education Reforms in India  

Shivali Tukdeo

The entry and prominence of international institutions in education have been striking features of policy development in the last few decades. A particular area of interest is India’s education system since independence, particularly in the context of the recent policy ideas steered by international actors. Once a strong marker of the British colonial legacy, formal education in India acquired different meanings post independence. The significance of education has been understood as an essential part of social transformation, a resource for mobility, and an instrument of empowerment. As the inherited system was domesticated, the following challenges emerged: equitable access, relevance of formal learning, and a fashioning of Indian national identity. Through a network of institutions, the enterprise of postcolonial public education was shaped in the mid-20th century and was deeply entrenched in the politics of class, caste, and gender. Mass education and schemes to enable access on the one hand, and the development of highly selective, technology-focused institutions on the other, became the route through which an extremely uneven landscape of education was established. A weakened public education system, growing private institutions, and the overall economic turn toward liberalization marked the Indian educational politics of the 1990s. Diverse international institutions, multilateral institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and national governments came together during the World Education Conference of 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand. For the developing world the policy process became globalized after the conference, and it expanded to include multiple actors and partnerships. Thriving since then, globalized education policy has become a space of solutions and authority. Given these changes at large, it is important to understand the politics of policy production, actual policy ideas, and how they acquire legitimacy.

Article

Policies and Practices that Foster Education for All: Implications for Economically Poor Nations  

Richard Rose and Ratika Malkani

International agreements that aim to achieve universal primary education for all children, regardless of need or ability, have ensured that governments around the world have considered policy development to support greater equity in education. Many of the world’s more economically advantaged countries have made significant progress to ensure that all children have opportunities to attend school. Progress has also been evident in countries which are less advantaged, though often this has been inhibited because of a lack of resources and expertise. The relationship between policy, provision, and practice in education is complex, and in responding to international agreements, governments have needed to take account of their own cultural and socio-economic circumstances. While many administrations have adopted models developed in other countries, the need to take account of existing practices and to build upon local expertise is apparent.

Article

Inclusion and Pacific Island Countries  

Ann Cheryl Armstrong and Derrick Armstrong

The Pacific island countries occupy over 1000 islands in the world’s largest ocean. Their histories and traditions have created bonds between nations that run deep in the cultures of the region. Yet, across this vast ocean, the cultures of the region also differ significantly. The introduction of Western forms of education have often ignored these cultures. Currently, “inclusive education” programs are being promoted in the region, particularly by outside agencies and funding bodies. The disability-inclusion model that underpins many of these initiatives comes from outside the region, and attempts to engage with the cultures of the region in promoting these initiatives have tended to be very limited. Often the initiatives promote an agenda that draws its direction and purpose from the donor countries rather than those of aid-recipient countries. Interaction between cultures over different perspectives and priorities is very healthy but the process of implementation can also easily be detached from the experience and worldviews of the recipients of these programs. Engaging with cultures and the social experience of the citizens of the island countries of the Pacific should be the starting point for the development of educational policy and practice so that the disempowerment of external imposition is avoided. In this chapter we argue that the inclusive education narrative of the Pacific island countries is often subsumed by, and therefore becomes ‘lost’ within, the broader context of the Asia-Pacific which is much larger and includes the world’s most populous countries. We conclude by advocating that research needs to be conducted on issues and cultures in the Pacific region that can contribute to the development of more meaningful and contextual approaches to inclusive education.

Article

Education in the Anthropocene  

Annette Gough

The term “Anthropocene” was coined in 2000 by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer to denote the present time interval as a new epoch of geological time dominated by human impact on the Earth. The starting date for the epoch is contentious—around the beginning of the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1800 ce), at the start of the nuclear age, or some other time, both earlier and later than these dates. The term itself is also contentious because of its humanist and human supremacy focus, and the way it hides troublesome differences between humans (including gender and cultural differences) and the intimate relationships among technology, humans, and other animals. Endeavors such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals aim to achieve gender equality by empowering women to participate in society. However, within this goal is the assumption that women and “other marginalized Others” can be assimilated within the dominant social paradigm rather than questioning the assumptions that maintain the subordination of these social groups. The goals also overlook the divergent impacts on women around the globe. Education in an Anthropocene context necessitates a different pedagogy that provides opportunities for learning to live in and engage with the world and acknowledges that we live in a more-than-human world. It also requires learners to critique the Anthropocene as a concept and its associated themes to counter the humanist perspective, which fails to consider how the nonhuman and material worlds coshape our mutual worlds. In particular, education in the Anthropocene will need to be interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or cross-disciplinary; intersectional; ecofeminist or posthumanist; indigenous; and participatory.

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.