The year 2019 celebrated the 25th anniversary of the World Conference on Special Needs in Education, held in Salamanca, Spain. At the conference, representatives of 92 governments and 25 international organizations adopted a Framework for Action that called on schools to welcome all children, regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other characteristics.
The principles elaborated in Salamanca have set the foundation for understanding the importance of inclusion in education. Since then, the concept of inclusion has broadened, emphasizing the need to reach all learners, on the assumption that every learner matters equally and has the right to receive relevant, quality, equitable and effective educational opportunities.
This is reinforced by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically Goal 4 (SDG4), which calls upon education systems ‘to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.
To achieve this ambitious goal, we encourage governments to ensure that adequate legislative frameworks are in place to enshrine the right to education and fight all forms of discrimination. Countries should also identify who is excluded, why and when, and at what stage of their educational journey. In this way, we can build education systems that see diversity as a strength and where every learner matters equally.
UNESCO is convinced that inclusive education systems are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes and gender-based discrimination, in order to create welcoming communities, build inclusive societies and achieve education for all.
This publication aims to inform thinking and practice globally. It provides an overview of the progress and challenges since Salamanca, as well as guidance and suggestions to help countries minimize barriers to learning and ensure the genuine inclusion of all learners.
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