SCHOOL WITHOUT BARRIERS: EUROPE FOR AN INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

The European Agency for special educational needs and educational inclusion (www.european-agency.org) is an independent organization which acts as a platform for cooperation among the 28 member countries in the field of inclusive education and special needs. It aims to improve education policies and practices for students with disabilities and special needs.

Inclusive education, as a universal right, requires policies that foster a quality education with equity and excellence for all citizens and that have the necessary resources (financial, human, educational, technical and technological) in order to provide services that will lead all students to success, in spite of their personal, social, economic, cultural, geographical, ethnic or other conditions. Special mention should be made to gender, as there is a specific discrimination suffered by girls and women with disabilities.

The European experience shows that inclusive education benefits all students, whether they are with specific educational needs arising from disability or other circumstances, as it prepares them to live and work in a plural society. Political will and determination of all parties is needed to promote deep and systemic changes, that is, to provide vision, knowledge, skills and legal framework to realize inclusive education of quality with equity and excellence.

Society as a whole needs to be involved in this educational change. This result is based on the achievement of specific aspects that are to be developed capillary in all countries, as the transformation of the centres in order to move towards the realization of the right to education for everyone, like flexible educational systems, respect for diversity as a value, the elimination of all kinds of barriers (physical, attitudinal, technological, social and communicational), promoting the conditions for coexistence and promote collaboration between students, parents, teachers and civil society.

One area in which Europe, through the European Agency, insists as a priority is the organization of information systems that allow the monitoring of inclusive policies and good practices with indicators that identify negative and positive factors.

Beside this, it is necessary to facilitate as much as possible the transition between different stages of education and to the work. Promoting inclusive education is also a priority because it allows early detection and care and in this sense, the initial and in service training of teachers at all educational levels appears as a key element not to be underestimated.

Of the many materials available in the mentioned website, we suggest the following three:

Key Principles for Promoting Quality in Inclusive Education – Recommendations for Policy Makers

Five Key Messages for Inclusive Education

Organisation of Provision to Support Inclusive Education – Summary Report