Inclusive education is a growing concern that informs and challenges educational reform processes around the world. Inclusive education stands on the recognition that education is a human right that supports a broader view and more comprehensive strategy of Education for All. It is essential to move forward from conceptual and theoretical debates towards adopting practical, comprehensive guidance materials which focus on schools, classrooms, and the interactions between teachers and learners. A principal environment for inclusion is at the school level. As social institutions, schools closely interact with cultural and societal practices and play a crucial role in engaging society towards inclusion.
While significant progress has been made toward inclusive education systems, there is still much to accomplish to ensure that all pupils and students are learning effectively. Little information emerged out of the national reports presented at the 48th session of the International Conference on Education about the daily practices in school and how schools can become more inclusive. Schools should have access to successful examples and inspiring lessons from good practices and gain a better understanding of how barriers to learning have been addressed elsewhere. Policymakers also need this important information to establish priorities for reforming education systems.
The Gulf Arab States Educational Research Center (GASERC) and the IBE jointly launched an 18-month project that aims to develop a resource pack entitled “Inclusive Schools”.
The main objectives to consider in producing the resource pack are:
- to promote awareness of inclusive schools among specialists and practitioners;
- to enhance the capacities of curriculum developers in the field of curriculum design, content selection and organization, diversification of teaching and learning resources to meet different needs of students; and
- to develop school-level assessment from the perspective and goals of inclusive education in the Arab states.
The project will identify and disseminate lessons from outstanding practices in different regions to provide policymakers, schools, teachers, and other stakeholders with concrete evidence and relevant examples of inclusive education.
The resource pack would consist of an inclusive education policy framework, an analysis of international developments in relation to inclusive education, and guides for the development of inclusive schools and classrooms. The policy framework is currently being developed; the analysis of international developments and practices will be completed around summer 2012, and the guides are expected to be ready by December 2012 – early 2013. All of the materials will then be presented at a seminar of representatives from each of the seven countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen).