The theme of inclusion has resonated in various discussions across societies for many years.
The basis of the idea of inclusion is the highest human values – respect for the other, solidarity, fundamental human rights. Inclusion does not evade any of the human areas in life, such as work, housing, leisure and, of course, education. Educational institutions have a great potential to influence, from the logic of their mission, social values and development. Encouraging inclusive processes in schools can be seen as a necessary condition for building an inclusive and globalized society. That is why education systems and schools themselves are subject to the demands of continual transformation.
As mentioned in “A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education” (published in 2017 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) including all learners and ensuring that each individual has an equal and personalized opportunity for educational progress is still a challenge in almost every country (and we add – including those in Europe).
The UNESCO 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its focus on leaving no one behind, provides a unique opportunity to build more inclusive and equitable societies. This should start with inclusive education systems. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on education calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030.
Inclusive education needs to be recognized as a continual process involving both legal reform and transformation of cultures, values and policies.
It is obvious that in each country this process is somewhat different, both at system and school level; it is influenced by the historical, geographic, national and religious composition of the society and, last but not least, by the political direction of the state.
ECNAIS would like to make a small contribution to the global debate on inclusion in education, with focus on the role played by independent schools in this field.
We set out the following starting points of the seminar:
- the key principle of all measures, both at the system and school level, is (or should be) the welfare of a child – in terms of taking into account and fulfilling its individual needs and maximizing the development of its potential (with respect to the welfare of her/his classmates as well),
- there are no good or bad system solutions if this key principle is fulfilled,
- let’s share our experiences openly and learn from them.
The fact that this seminar takes place in Prague is not accidental. The Czech Republic is one of the countries in which significant legislative changes concerning the education of pupils with special educational needs have recently come into effect. The Seminar is organized in close cooperation with the Association of Private Schools of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia (SSŠČMS).