In addition to the human rights and principled imperative for inclusive education, there is a powerful educational, social, and economic case to be made. Indeed, the OHCHR Thematic Study of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2013) has affirmed that only inclusive education can provide both quality education and social development for persons with disabilities, arguing that it is the most appropriate modality for States to guarantee universality and non-discrimination in the right to education.[i]
- The educational case: The focus on inclusive education in individual educational planning and cooperative learning strengthens teachers’ competences. Research also highlights that supporting children with disabilities, regardless of their age, in inclusive environments leads to an improvement in the quality of education as it becomes more person-centred and focused on achieving good learning outcomes for all children, including those with a diverse range of abilities. Children with disabilities, for example, have greater overall gains in academic outcomes and behaviours in inclusive environments than their peers with similar disabilities in segregated classrooms.[ii] Furthermore, when teachers are educated to include children with disabilities, the level and standard of learning for children with both with and without disabilities increases.[iii]
- The social case: Inclusive education contributes to the creation of a culture of diversity, participation and involvement into community life for persons with and without disabilities, teachers and others in the school environment as well as the wider society. Through experience of learning and playing together, all learners, together with their parents, families and caregivers, are encouraged to learn tolerance, acceptance of difference and respect for diversity, leading to eliminating stigmatization and exclusion. Inclusive education also provides learners with disabilities with greater independence, social skills, and opportunities to become productive members of their communities and exercise their rights to participate and become involved in their societies.
- The economic case: educating persons with disabilities is a positive investment, reducing poverty and exclusion from active participation in the economy. Opportunities for quality inclusive education will lead to reduced current and future dependence, and reduced caring responsibilities
[i] A/HRC/25/29 para 3
[ii]MacArthur, J. (2009). Learning Better Together: Working Towards Inclusive Education in New Zealand Schools. http:// www.ihc.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/learning-better-together.pdf; Wang, MC and Baker, ET (1985-1986). Mainstreaming programs: Design features and effects. Journal of Special Education, 19, 503-521.
[iii] Mitchell, D. (2010). Education that Fits: Review of international trends in the education of students with special educational needs. Christchurch: University of Canterbury. http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0016/86011/ Mitchell-Review-Final.pdf