04 SES 03 B, Social Stratificaton and Inclusion
The shift in the last thirty years or so in understanding disability has influenced the development of inclusive education within a rights perspective. From the adoption in 1982 of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons (UN, 1983), which referred to the right of education but mainly in providing special education support, to The Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (UN, 1993) which referred to integrated education, and TheSalamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (UNESCO, 1994) which provided an international articulation of inclusive education, there is an increased emphasis not only of the importance of inclusive education but also of it being a feasible goal to aspire for educational systems internationally. This is culminated on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN, 2006), which makes a clear proclamation of inclusive education in Article 24 on Education.
The Convention through its reporting mechanism provides a process of regularly reporting on compliance with their obligations for the state parties that have ratified it. The first report is due within two years after the Convention comes into force for the specific state and consequent reports are expected at least every four years. It is through this process that the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities provides recommendations for future direction. Currently 89 Initial Reports are available on the Committee’s website and 34 of them have been through the full process, receiving Concluding Observations by the Committee.
This paper aims to present an analysis of how Initial Reports respond to the obligations set up in Article 24 on Education and the extent that they represent progress towards inclusive education as defined in Article 24. While Article 24 on Education provides a clear proclamation of inclusive education for persons with disabilities inclusive education as a concept is still characterised by a lack of a commonly accepted definition (D. Armstrong, Armstrong, Spandagou, 2011). The lack of an agreement around what constitutes inclusion seems to be persisting in the interpretations of the Article 24 on Education. This has resulted in development of a General Comment by the Committee to clarify the right to inclusive education, which is currently at the finalisation stage (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2015).
The research questions explored in this paper are the following:
- What constructions of inclusive education are presented in Initial Reports submitted by state parties?
- How are these constructions of inclusive education justified (as desirable of practice implementation) and what actions are reported in order to realise them?
- To what extent these constructions correspond to the definition presented in Article 24?
- What are the main points raised in the Committee’s Concluding Observations?
The analysis of the Initials Reports and Concluding Observations allows exploring the contested nature of inclusive education.
Armstrong, A. C., Armstrong, D., & Spandagou, I. (2010). Inclusive education: International policy & practice. London, UK: Sage. Armstrong, D., Armstrong, A. C., & Spandagou, I. (2011). Inclusion: By choice or by chance. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(1), 29–39. Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (2015). Draft General Comment no. 4 Article 24. The right to inclusive education. Available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CRPD/Pages/GCRightEducation.aspx UNESCO. (1994). The Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education. Paris: UNESCO. United Nations. (2006). Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and optional protocol. New York: United Nations. United Nations. (1993). UN standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities, New York: United Nations. United Nations –Division for Economic and Social Information. (1983). World programme of action concerning disabled persons, New York: United Nations.
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