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Begriffliche Grundlagen der Forschungsmethodik (English version)

With the Salamanca Declaration1 1994 inclusive education has become an official but non binding programmatic objective of the international community framed in a human rights perspective. The Salamanca Declaration said clearly, that „… regular schools with this inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes … building an inclusive society and achieving education for all“ (Art. 2); and it demands to enable schools “to include all children regardless of individual differences of difficulties, adopt as a matter of law or policy the principle of inclusive education“ (Art. 3). It was the start for intensive international efforts to develop inclusive educational systems wherever possible. When the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPwD) was finally accepted in 2008, it contained the right for inclusive education as one of the central dimension of human rights of persons with disabilities. The UN Convention states in Art. 24
“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and life long learning…”
Art. 24 gives a rather precise definition on ‘inclusive education’. It means to provide a system in which persons with disabilities can at all levels access education on an equal basis with others in the communities in which they live. They should not be excluded on the basis of disability and should get the support they require. So the UN CRPwD follows the objective of nearly full inclusion of pupils with disabilities in the regular education system2. Inclusive education is based on the principle of “one school for all” and involves structural changes like for instance, organization, curriculum and teaching and learning strategies3. This means that inclusive education is realized when persons with disabilities or SEN learn in the same cultural settings as non disabled persons. Inclusive education is not realized when persons with disabilities are educated in special classes or special units at regular schools.
The Convention does not explicitly forbid special schools, but sees them legitimated only for specific demands of a very small number of students with special educational needs who need to learn specific skills in a special environment.
Even though Art. 24 focusses in some parts on primary and secondary schools, it also states that all levels of education must be included and policies must refer to pre-school, tertiary and other life-long education forms.

 

1.2 Progressive implementation

It is important to see that education is an economic, social and cultural right. As long as institutional practices are not discriminative the UN Convention does not demand an immediate, but a progressive realization (GEW 2008: 34). I.e. in steps states have to ”assure”, “to take appropriate measures” and are to “use effectively all available resources”4. To monitor the progress a reporting system was agreed upon that is able to identify the undertaken steps of states. The assessment instrument is also conceptualized to assess steps of transformation from a segregated to an inclusive education system.
The methodology for the ‘Instrument for Assessment of Inclusiveness of Policies and Practice of Inclusive Education’ presented below refers directly to UN CRPwD and is conceptualized to contribute to national and European implementation processes. The prescriptions of Art. 24

 

1.3 Disability and Special Educational Needs (SEB) - Which persons are we referring to?

The UN-Convention states in its preamble that “disability results from the interaction between persons with impairments and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others”. In welfare state arrangements or educational systems an official categorization of certain persons is taking place to identify them as ‘disabled’ or as having ‘special educational needs’. To understand the processes of diagnosis and categorization is relevant for analyzing the inclusiveness of education systems. It makes sense to ask how students become ‘disabled’ or how they become ‘SEN-children’ and what the consequences of this social status are.

Generally it is held to be important for societies that children should have a chance to learn and to be well educated. In this context some children at a certain point of their (young) lives come into the focus of attention of ‘system agents’. These can be e.g. therapists, social workers, doctors or educators in pre-school establishments, i.e. professionals who perceive or become reported that a certain child has problems being related with its abilities to learn like other children or to follow mainstream school programs. Depending on various aspects of the given situation (character of the child’s problem, family resources and educational orientation, characteristics of the support system, incentives and recruitment strategies of services and schools etc.) the child’s problem related to learning will be dealt with differently and can have different effects on his/her learning career. In most countries there are institutionalized procedures by which children with developmental problems that affect their learning performance are pro-cessed in the status of a ‘disabled child’ or more recently the status of a SEN-child. For the student with learning problems this is important, because this status gives access to support measures other children do not get unless they are categorized as well. For the school system the categorization process is important because traditionally it directs the placement of the child. In countries with a strong tradition of special education diagnosis and categorization is still the mechanism for placing children into different types of special schools, that are profiled around so-called ‘primary defects’ of children (e.g. hearing impaired, blind, physically disabled, intellectually disabled, emotionally disabled, language disabled’ etc.). In other countries categorization is more used for placing children in ‘special units’ of ordinary schools or for allocating additional hours of support in normal classrooms. There is one relevant position saying, categorization of students must be eliminated because of its inherent stigmatization and replaced by general school budgets or additional budget schools get for offering measures to prevent the necessity for categorization. Another position states that assessment and categorization processes in welfare state arrangements are necessary gate-keepers and not avoidable. This means, inclusive education is confronted with the challenge to find intelligent ways of categorization that allow access to additional support in mainstream educational settings without producing segregating effects. (Here we can also look for examples of good practice.)
In the focus of this research are persons that have SEN or are disabled according to national criteria. Because of differences between countries in categorization or assessment of special educational needs for our instrument this means that we are not primarily interested in the quota of students with SEN being included in regular education settings but in those that are in segregating settings or totally excluded from education (‘Segregation quota’)

 


 

1   as a result of the UNESCO-World Conference On Special Needs Education in Salamanca, Spain

2   „Experience has shown that as many as 80 to 90 per cent of children with specific education needs, including children with intellectual disabilities, can easily be integrated into regular schools and classrooms, as long as there is basic support for their inclusion.“UN-Handbook for Parliamentarians, 2007, S. 85, quoted by GEW 2008: 26

3   Cf. Manifesto on Inclusive education, EASPD 2009

4   The Convention is oriented to the assumption that at the end the implementation of a single inclusive education will save resources: „Inclusive educational settings are generally less expensive than segregated systems. This finding is consistent with the notion that a single, integrated educational system tends to be cheaper than two separate ones. A single system lowers management and administration costs. Transport, too, is less expensive, since segregated settings usually involve individuals from a larger geographical area“,(“UN-Handbook for Parliamentarians, 2007, S. 85, quoted by GEW 2008: 26)