Last week (11-13 September), the International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education was held in Cali, Colombia, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Salamanca Declaration with a packed agenda. This blog summarizes some of the energy and outcomes from the event.
“Making inclusive policies at the national level is not a very productive way to make a career in politics” said Stefania Giannini, Assistant-Director General for Education at UNESCO, but notably also former Minister of Education in Italy. And yet, the almost 40 countries represented at the Forum signed up to the ‘Cali commitment to equity and inclusion in education’, “which recognizes the necessity and urgency of providing equitable and inclusive quality education for all learners, from the early years through compulsory schooling, TVET, higher education, and lifelong learning”.
The statement also committed those present to “build on achievements […] including in the areas addressed by the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report.” In shorthand:
- Legislative and policy frameworks that take a cross-sectoral approach
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities of decision makers at all levels and across all sectors
- Curricula that are broad and inclusive
- Learning environments that ensure high levels of motivation, engagement and learning outcomes for everyone
- Technologies based on principles of equity, diversity and inclusion
- Teachers with a solid understanding of the principles and practices of inclusion and their application
- Robust disaggregated data and evidence
- Adequate , equitable and effectively used funding at all levels
The GEM Report team attended the event, presenting the initial findings from its preparation for the 2020 GEM Report ,which to a large extent relies on creating education profiles of countries’ laws and policies on inclusion.
The purpose of these new profiles is to provide comparable qualitative information on policies and encourage peer learning through policy dialogue, particularly at the regional level, a crucial mechanism to mobilizing the answers and energy needed to achieve SDG 4.
The team also introduced the main call-out, or hashtag, for our 2020 Report, #AllmeansALL, to note the shift that has been made from segregation to integration to inclusion since the 1990 Jomtien World Declaration on Education for All. As Dominic Cardy, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development of New Brunswick, Canada, said: “Systems should support everyone, not only those with needs.” “Every learner matters, and every learner matters equally”, said Mel Ainscow, Emeritus Professor of Education and co-director of the Centre for Equity in Education at the University of Manchester.
Manos Antoninis, director of the GEM Report, noted that, while interpretations of inclusion in education vary around the world and only a minority of countries take a comprehensive view, GEM Report research shows many governments are adapting their policies to reflect the priorities on inclusion and cross-sector collaboration made in the SDGs.
Finally, the team held a side event to present the forthcoming regional report it will produce in partnership with SUMMA and UNESCO OREALC. Latin America and the Caribbean has the largest and most challenging socio-economic inequalities in the world. This report will offer a deeper dive into the core challenges and key solutions for greater inclusion through several in-depth case studies from the region. For instance, it will cover access to education for Venezuelans in Colombia, remote populations in Suriname, students with disability in Jamaica, girls in Peru, boys in Barbados; LGBT students in Chile, or incarcerated youth in Uruguay.
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