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Better Education For All? 18 years later…

It has been almost 18 years since the Salamanca Statement, when 92 governments and more than 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain from 7 to 10 June 1994 to further the objective of Education for All that promotes the access to education for all children particularly those with special education needs. So after 18 years has the dream of Salamanca been realized? Has progress been made? What kind of progress and where? What has not happened? What still remains to be done? This report by Inclusion International attempts to answer these questions based on the stories and experiences from participants from 75 countries collaborating with organizations, governments, self-advocates and families – to undertake country profiles, surveys of parents and teachers, and focus groups with families.

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The Salamanca Statement

The Salamanca Statement is considered the “manifesto” of Inclusion and Special Needs Education. It was formed in June 1994 in Salamanca, Spain where representatives of 92 governments and 25 international organizations formed the World Conference on Special Needs Education. The participants agreed a dynamic new Statement on the education of all children with disabilities, which called for inclusion to be the norm. In addition, the Conference adopted a new Framework for Action, the guiding principle of which is that ordinary schools should accommodate all children, regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. All educational policies, says the Framework, should stipulate that disabled children attend the neighborhood school 'that would be attended if the child did not have a disability.'

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Dakar Framework for Action on Education for All (EFA)

In Dakar in 2000, the World Education Forum re-affirmed the vision of the Declaration on Education for All, which was originally adopted in 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand, and adopted a Framework for Action that emphasized the need for quality in basic education as well as access to it. In 1990 the world community adopted an expanded vision of what basic education means, calling for a learning environment in which everyone would have the chance to acquire the basic elements which serve as a foundation for further learning and enable full participation in society. In Dakar in 2000, focus was placed at the national level and on the responsibility of national governments towards education. The Dakar Framework clearly states the commitment to create the right conditions for EFA in each country, recognizing that some countries will need help in doing so, and recognizing, too, the responsibility of those with the means to make such help available. In a globalized world, it is not only unacceptable, it is dangerous to allow a situation of educational 'haves' and 'have-nots' to persist.

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Understanding and responding to Children’s Needs in Inclusive Classrooms. A guide for teachers

Special Needs in the Classroom was developed to assist countries and practitioners to adopt more inclusive strategies for responding to children’s special learning needs in regular schools and to support regular teacher education. The main elements of the Resource Pack, consist of the following: study materials (an extensive range of readings, stimulus sheets and classroom activities); a course leader’s guide with detailed guidance on how to organize course and facilitate sessions based on the study materials; and two demonstration videos. The Pack introduces new thinking in special needs education and looks at disabilities and learning difficulties from the point of view of interaction between the learner and the environment, discarding the medical concept of disabilities and learning difficulties. It promotes participatory approaches to learning and teaching, encouraging learners and teachers to work collaboratively, and invites schools to open their doors to community participation. The materials are used flexibly and can be modified to suit local training contexts at the pre-service and in-service level, as well as in school-based training. The UNESCO Teacher Education Resource Pack Special Needs in the Classroom has been used in about 80 countries and been translated into more than 20 languages.

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The Toolkit on Inclusive Education

An inclusive, learning-friendly environment (ILFE) welcomes, nurtures, and educates all children regardless of their gender, physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic, or other characteristics. Creating such an environment however is not an easy task. Maybe teachers are already overworked, or the classroom size is too big to accommodate such a change, and including more children from diverse backgrounds might mean more work. It doesn’t need to be though. This Toolkit is an excellent source for teachers, administrators, students and anyone who is involved in creating such an environment. It contains 6 booklets with useful tools to make schools and classrooms more welcoming and lively places of learning for ALL children and teachers alike. Some resource material have already been tried and worked in many regions of the world and can be easily adapted to diverse cultural settings, and other tools are designed to have educators reflect on their current practices and develop their own tools. It is a simple, comprehensive and teacher, student and parent friendly toolkit that could be a great assistance in your efforts to create inclusive and learning environment in your classroom, school, and community.

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