The global community including UN Agencies, National Governments of different countries, INGOs, NGOs, and Civil Society Organizations are promoting universal primary education. There are many international declarations, agreements and conventions like EFA, MDGs, United Nations Conventions on Right of Child (UNCRC) and United Nations Conventions on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) that endorse access to free and compulsory primary education as the right of every child also keeping in view the Inclusive Primary Education.
Read more:Goal of Inclusive Education
United Nations’ Convention on Rights of Child, 1989 and Importance of Inclusive Education
The convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is based upon four main principles:
- Non discrimination
- Best interest of Child
- Survival and Development
- Children’s participation
As per Article 23 of UNCRC, “States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community”. Article 28 states that state parties should ensure the right of the child to education on the basis of equal opportunity. They shall make primary education compulsory and free for all.
Universal Declaration on Education for All, 1990
In 1990, representatives from 150 governmental and non-governmental organizations and delegates from 155 countries agreed at the “World Conference on Education for All” in Jomtien, Thailand to make primary education compulsory and accessible to all children. The participants also adopted a World Declaration on “Education for All” which re-endorsed the idea of education as a fundamental human right and recommended countries to take all necessary actions to meet basic learning needs for everyone.
Salamanca Statement, 1994
In June 1994, representatives from 92 countries and 25 international organizations got together for a “World Conference on Special Education” in Salamanca, Spain. The Salamanca statement and framework for action indicates that the:
- Education for All (EFA) cannot be achieved without inclusion of Children With Special Needs (CWSN) and other marginalized children.
- The best way for their inclusion is to enrol them in neighbouring regular schools instead of special schools.
Millennium Development Goals, 2000
The MDGs are the outcome of the millennium summit 2000 that was attended by 23 International Organizations and 193 UN member states. There are eight International Development Goals agreed by member states to be achieved by 2015. The MDGs include:
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve Universal Primary Education
- Promote Gender Equality and Empowering Women
- Reducing Child Mortality Rates
- Improve Maternal Health
- Combating HIV/AIDS, Malaria and other diseases
- Ensuring Environmental Sustainability
- Developing a global partnership for development
The second MDG “Universal Primary Education” is further divided into three targets:
- Increase in enrolment at primary level
- Decrease in the dropout of the children at primary level
- Provision of quality education to all children
United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2006
UNCRPD was introduced in 2006. The right to inclusive Primary education is protected with different Articles of different countries. Which shows that:
- Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability.
- Persons with disabilities can access an inclusive, quality and free primary and secondary education on an equal basis with other in the communities in which they live.
- Persons with disabilities receive the support required, within the general education system, to facilitate their effective education.
Conclusion / Inclusive Primary Education
On the basis of the above discussion, we can sum up that different Governments of different countries has made commitments to provide free and compulsory primary education to all children without any discrimination. Department of education is the custodian which has been given with the responsibility for the provision of education at grassroots level. It means that government of different countries can fulfil its commitment only if the teachers and educators ensure that no child in the catchment area of the school is out of the school due to any reason.
We also need to understand that bringing children with disabilities to the regular schools does not necessarily mean that it is a burden for the teachers. In fact, this is a prime responsibility of the teachers and a basic right of the child.