As we continue our discussion on curriculum, I look at the issue of inclusion. Who is the curriculum designed for, who does it consider and what makes an inclusive curriculum?
In our world of mobile peoples and education provisions that need to cater equally well for those that will access from a range of spectrums from those who are required to formally attend until they reach school leaving age, those that will be attending as older first time entrants, those who attend sporadically and those who will not access until adulthood, where do you start?
In January 2016, the International Bureau of Education (IBE), part of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) published a document containing training tools for curriculum development called Reaching Out To All Learners: A Resource Pack For Supporting Inclusive Education. The document is a brave attempt to address some of the often thorny issues surrounding inclusion to ensure that no child or learner is excluded from accessing education due to lack of awareness or effective planning and implementation.
According to IBE-UNESCO, “Inclusive education is an over-guiding principle of the 2030 Education Agenda embodied in Sustainable Development Goal 4”. The document was produced to support the 195 Member States, which includes virtually the whole of Africa, as they attempt to address education and curriculum reforms and their development processes. It “Intends to share their broader understanding of the theory and practice of inclusive education to support its effective implementation at the school and classroom levels. It provides comprehensive guidance for national policy makers, curriculum specialists and developers, teachers, teacher educators, school leaders and district level administrators”.
There is a recognition that although informal curriculum, such as pupil and out of school interaction can be difficult to plan, it is still an important part of learning and can be influenced by the formal curriculum. It also acknowledges that inclusion may not always be understood or welcomed where people are used to segregated systems or where the educators are fearful or feel that they lack the skills and or ability to effectively manage learner diversity. The latter is perhaps an even bigger issue, it can be strongly argued that an effective solution can be limited by the effectiveness of its implementer and implementation.
The document refers to a wide range of materials and case studies as examples of how ensuring inclusion might be approached. It is also careful to say that “the information provided in the material and case studies does not necessarily represent the views of IBE-UNESCO. The designations employed and the presentations of the material …. do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the IBE-UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country…” A clear statement that although every attempt has been made to suggest a way forward for educational inclusion, it cannot be held responsible for, or, is by any means the finished article.
As previously mentioned, ensuring an inclusive curriculum has many considerations. Not only does the learner need to be able to gain access to what is being provided, i.e. attend, but they also need to be able to access or engage with the content so that they can benefit from the learning experience.
What is the inclusion education policy where you are and have you thought about how you can influence how and what decisions are being made about our young?
Shepperson & Shepperson Consultants Ltd
Source: Lesley Shepperson / Zongonews.com / firstname.lastname@example.org