The OECD states that almost one-fifth of students may develop a special educational need during their schooling years. While data are limited, the most recent global estimate of the disability prevalence from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is that between 93 million and 150 million children live with disability. Inclusive education, as enshrined in Article 24 of the UNCRPD, needs to be a founding principle of any education system.
While integration gives access to the mainstream education system, it expects the learner to fit into the existing mold, and doesn’t change the fundamental structure of the education system. In an inclusive education system, the framework changes to adapt to and welcome every learner, who is welcomed and valued as able to contribute to the learning environment. Inclusive education providers adapt the learning environment to the individual needs of the student and adopt attitudes, approaches and strategies that include all learners in all activities with respect to their individual learning level. The methods used to measure success and failure in school are an important element to be redefined to allow the learner to express his knowledge and skill in the most appropriate way.
Furthermore, it is important to note that Article 24 of the UNCRPD challenges not only the school systems but also refers to all levels of education in the human life-course (e.g. pre-school services, vocational education and training and adult education services). Learners should be offered a complete set of inclusive learning environments, including parallel settings and post-graduate opportunities, to avoid the pitfall of being altogether excluded from education because of an overly rigid and formal education system.