Silvana is one of many champions being highlighted by the GEM Report in the run up to the launch of its 2020 publication on inclusion and education: All means all, due out 23 June. In their own way, and in multiple countries around the world, these champions are fighting for learner diversity to be celebrated, rather than ignored.
Silvana was a teacher when her daughter Catalina came into the world with paraplegia, deafness and muteness. Determined not to reduce her daughter to her status as a patient, Silvana enrolled her in a regular school to give her the opportunity to interact with other children. The path was not easy, regular schools did not accept Catalina and referred her to special education schools for paraplegic children. Silvana managed to enrol Catalina in a regular school and she was not wrong. During the 9 years that Catalina was alive, she was able to share caresses and enjoy the company of her classmates.
Thanks to Catalina’s life, Silvana developed extensive knowledge of inclusive education. Determined not to waste it, Silvana earned a master’s degree and specialisation in inclusive education and today is the director of an inclusive school in the Villa Real neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, where she welcomes low-income children, teenage mothers, children with special abilities, and children who have been imprisoned, among others.
“There are things that Cata took away from this life that only a regular school could provide. I am convinced that the only way to transform society and eradicate discrimination is by educating all children together.”
For Silvana, all children must be raised to live together in society. Inclusive education fights indifference, because “the others” cease to exist and children grow up with a different awareness, ready to help those in need. While many teachers agree with the importance of inclusive education, many lack practical tools to apply it in the classroom. That is why Silvana divides her time between her work in the school and providing training in inclusive education tools to teachers in Latin America and Europe. Her work earned her a nomination for the Teachers’ prize in 2017.
“I am not sure whether a measure ensures inclusion in education and I say this because many have been taken and “guaranteed” by law, but not enforced. They are not complied with, because inclusion is a lifestyle and if we don’t change the way we see the world, they cannot be guaranteed. I believe that the question that schools should ask themselves in the presence of “the Other” is “Who is she/he?” and not “What’s wrong with her/him?”. Schools have the power to Name, to give back an Identity. It is as simple as that, and as complex; it is revolutionary and a great possibility to breathe inclusion.”
The 2020 GEM Report on inclusion will address all those excluded from education systems around the world. It provides concrete examples of policies that countries are implementing to help tackle exclusion, as well as recommendations on how to ensure that all children – regardless of their identities, backgrounds or abilities – can access quality, inclusive education. Register here to receive a copy in your inbox as soon as it is published on 23 June.
Join our first ever virtual global launch on 23 June to hear from inclusion champions, ministers, teachers and celebrities from different corners of the world.