04 SES 12 A, Parents’ Hopes and Dreams for the Education of Disabled and Marginalised Children Explored through the Looking-Glass of Four Different Cultures
The term “inclusive education” has been incorporated into government education policy in most countries since the Salamanca statement 1994. Key international organisations such as UNESCO and the OECD declare their commitment to inclusive education and the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability ( 2006) recognizes the right of all children to be educated, included in general education systems and to receive the individual support they need for that purpose (CRPD article 24). Yet “inclusive education” is hotly contested and debated by all key players in the educational systems of the world.
This symposium proposes to look at parents’ perspectives, their hopes, dreams and challenges they encounter when working for a more equitable education for their disabled/marginalised children through the lens of four very different cultures: a poor Indian fishing community; a mixed socio-cultural community in Thailand; through metaphors developed by and with parents in Belgium who are fighting for inclusive education for their disabled children in the two track special and regular Belgian education system, and finally through the perspective of native and immigrant parents of disabled children in Iceland, a small Nordic type welfare state. Common and conflicting themes resonate through the data, highlighting parents’ educational expectations, claims for social justice and human rights for their children across cultures, socio-economic backgrounds, religious affiliations and diverse educational systems. All four governments in the researched countries signed the Salamanca Statement on “inclusive education” policy, yet progress is in many respects very slow.
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