Inclusive education: Knowing what we mean
Inclusive education: Knowing what we mean

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Inclusive education: Knowing what we mean

3.4 The Salamanca Statement

In 1994 over 300 participants – including 92 governments and 25 international organisations – met in Salamanca, Spain, with the purpose of furthering the objectives of inclusive education. The resulting Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994) was framed by a rights-based perspective on education. Although the Statement focused on children described as having ‘special needs’, it asserted from the outset its commitment to:

Reaffirming the right to education of every individual, as enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and renewing the pledge made by the world community at the 1990 World Conference on Education for All to ensure that right for all regardless of individual differences.

(UNESCO, 1994, p. vii)

Later, in the section ‘Guidelines for Action at the National Level’, the Statement acknowledged that ‘most of the required changes do not relate exclusively to children with special educational needs’ (p. 21); rather, they are part of a wider reform of education needed to improve its quality and relevance and promote higher levels of learning achievement by all learners.

The Statement placed educational reform firmly within a broader social agenda that included health, social welfare and vocational training and employment. It emphasised that mechanisms for planning, monitoring and evaluating provision for inclusive education should be ‘decentralised and participatory’ and should encourage the ‘participation of parents, communities and organisations of people with disabilities in the planning and decision making’ (UNESCO, 1994, p. ix).

The Statement acknowledged that in many countries there were ‘well established systems of special schools for those with specific impairments': these schools, it asserted, could ‘represent a valuable resource for the development of inclusive schools’ (UNESCO, 1994, p. 12). However, it urged countries without such a system to ‘concentrate their efforts on the development of inclusive schools’ (UNESCO, 1994, p. 13) alongside specialist support services to enable them to reach the majority of children and young people. All policies, both local and national, should ensure that children with disabilities could attend their neighbourhood school.

Evans et al. (1999) have noted that the Salamanca Statement and other United Nations proclamations have had a ‘powerful influence’ on international perspectives on inclusion.

E848_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has nearly 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus