04 SES 06 C, Education Evaluation, Absenteeism And The Right To Inclusive Education & SDGs
Title: The right to inclusive education in the context of Sustainable Development Goals; Lessons from Europe
In 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that outlines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) covering the period 2015-2030. It puts forward the most ambitious up to now international development project aimed to all countries regardless of their stage of development. Following previous development initiatives, SDGs include a dedicated goal, goal 4, to education by aiming to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
The significance of having inclusive in SDG 4 is that it essentially brings together two lines of international policy; disability and educational development (Spandagou, 2018). The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) refers in its preamble to the “importance of mainstreaming disability issues as an integral part of relevant strategies of sustainable development”. However, the mainstreaming of ‘inclusive’ in education may results in interpretations of the term in ways that minimise its potential impact, and especially its recognition within a human rights agenda. The aim of the study is to examine to what extent and in what ways the inclusive element of SDG4 is addressed in National Voluntary Reviews (NVRs).
The SDGs are not legally binding but the 193 participating countries are committed to their realisation and to an integrated follow-up and review framework. The SDGs include currently169 targets and 232 indicators with a substantial project being underway to define and agree on methodologies on indicators for data collection and reporting. As part of the review framework, countries are also to participate in voluntary and country-led reviews at the national and subnational, regional and subregional and global. In contrast to the very detailed framework of data collection, there is considerable flexibility in the format and content of these reviews which allow extensive scope for interpretation on behalf of the countries in deciding what to include and what to leave out.
This presentation discusses the content analysis of the National Voluntary Reviews (NVRs) submitted by 36 European countries in the first three rounds of reporting in 2016-2018. These reviews were identified from the total of 113 available reviews using the Council of Europe membership as an inclusion criterion. The reviews were analysed using NVivo. The references to education, diversity, and disability and the extent that specific data were provided were examined. Almost all reports made reference to disability but not all of them made reference to disability in relation to education. Almost all reports referred to broader diversity issues in education including gender, minority status with predominantly reference to Roma populations, and migrant students. Explicit references to inclusive education were made in less than half of the reports. The paucity of actual data, and especially of disaggregated data is also notable. The presentation concludes with a discussion of the significance of these findings and in particular the ways that the qualifiers of inclusive and quality on education are understood and represented in the reviews and the implications for the SDGs’ potential for change in the area of inclusive education.
The 36 National Voluntary Reviews (NVRs) submitted by European countries in the first three rounds of reporting in 2016-2018 were analysed in this study. These reviews were selected by a total of 113 submitted in that period and available on the SDGs website. In 2016 nine reports by Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland and Turkey were identified, followed by 13 in 2017 (by Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Italy Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Sweden) and 14 in 2018 (by Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Poland). Four reports weren’t available in English (Belarus, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Andorra) and were excluded from the analysis that was conducted with the use of NVivo. The final sample was 32 reviews representing 31 countries as Switzerland submitted two reports in that period). The analysis examined what references to the key terms of diversity, disability and education were made; the extent that references to education were within a human rights framework; and the extent that references were qualified by descriptive information, examples and/or data. A thematic analysis of what the reviews talked about and how inclusive education was presented was also conducted.
There was variation in the extent that key concepts were discussed in the reports. While all reports referred to disability, not all of them referred to disability in education and a minority refer to disability within an inclusive education framework. Even when inclusive education was mentioned, in exceptional cases this was within a human rights perspective. Commonplace blurring of inclusive education, integration and of special education was evident in the reports. Similarly to disability, diversity was evident in all reports with the majority of them referring to diversity in education. References to gender, minority status with predominantly reference to Roma populations, and migrant students were common. References to inclusive education ranged from limited to policy, qualified with examples and in rare case supported by data. Different emphases in terms of an understanding of inclusive education for a small number of specific groups of students or for a broad range of diversity are evident. These emphases are related to contextual socio-political characteristics of countries. However, there is scarce evidence of inclusive education as a reform in creating a unified system. In summing up the findings of this study, what qualifies inclusive education still matters and it is through this qualifications that inclusive education is understood within the global development agenda.
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