Skip to content
 

Blog post

Towards inclusive and equitable quality education for all: To borrow or not to borrow?

Eddy Li, University of Cambridge

One of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations (UN) in 2000 concerns achieving universal primary education (United Nations, 2015b). Since then, systemic changes have been initiated worldwide to accommodate an increasing diversity of learners. In 2015, the UN launched the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015a). Among its 17 new Global Goals is the call for inclusive and equitable quality education for all (aka SDG4). Underpinning this paradigm shift from access to quality appears to be a quest for more effective pedagogy that supports the expanding and meanwhile diversifying student population.

‘Underpinning this paradigm shift from access to quality appears to be a quest for more effective pedagogy that supports the expanding and meanwhile diversifying student population.’

As empirical efforts have already been made in many countries with compulsory school attendance to explore context-specific teaching approaches for all, there may be much that others can learn from their processes to facilitate more inclusive practices. For example, the Index for Inclusion (Booth & Ainscow, 2002) developed within the UK has been widely transplanted overseas since its publication. To date, it is accessible in at least 40 translations (see Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education, 2016), supporting both English and non-English speaking communities from around the globe to develop more inclusive cultures, policies, and practices.

Although a wide range of similar regional resources are readily available for transnational adaptation, the limitations of educational borrowing shall not be overlooked. Alexander (2008) defines pedagogy as the observable act of teaching together with its attendant discourse of educational theories, values, evidence and justifications. This theoretical construct highlights the relevance of understanding teaching together with its pedagogical surroundings, rather than in insolation as simplified rules of practice. For instance, while a peer-group interactive approach per se is considered by literature written in English as effective in including children identified with special educational needs in the mainstream setting (Rix, Hall, Nind, Sheehy, & Wearmouths, 2009), research has argued that Chinese learners do not prefer working in groups (Phillipson, 2007). These contrasting perspectives on teaching and learning from across cultures shall be taken into consideration if ideas about inclusive practices are to be transferred successfully therein.

‘A major challenge of inclusive teacher education relates to how teachers can translate what they already know about teaching a diversity of learners into practice, rather than their lack thereof.’

As remarked by Florian & Linklater (2010),  a major challenge of inclusive teacher education relates to how teachers can translate what they already know about teaching a diversity of learners into practice, rather than their lack thereof. Thus, similar to a common pedagogical challenge in many inclusive classrooms, here is the question: how could differences be considered as resources to facilitate greater inclusion?


References

Alexander, R. (2008) Essays on pedagogy, London: Routledge.

Booth, T., & Ainscow, M. (2002) Index for inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools. Retrieved from http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/Index English.pdf

Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (2016) Index for Inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools. Retrieved 15 January 2018, from http://www.csie.org.uk/resources/inclusion-index-explained.shtml

Florian, L., & Linklater, H. (2010) ‘Preparing teachers for inclusive education: Using inclusive pedagogy to enhance teaching and learning for all’, Cambridge Journal of Education 40(4): 369–386

Phillipson, S. N. (2007) ‘The regular Chinese classroom’, in S. N. Phillipson (Ed.), Learning diversity in the Chinese classroom: Contexts and practice for students with special needs. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Rix, J., Hall, K., Nind, M., Sheehy, K., & Wearmouths, J. (2009) ‘What pedagogical approaches can effectively include children with special educational needs in mainstream classrooms? A systematic literature review’, Support for Learning 24(2): 86–94

United Nations. (2015a) Sustainable Development Goals: 17 goals to transform our world. Retrieved 31 December 2017, from http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/

United Nations. (2015b). We can end poverty: Millennium Development Goals and beyond 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2017, from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/