Last week, the Trust for Social Achievement, represented by CEO Sarah Perrine, was invited to participate in UNESCO’s “International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education – Every Learner Matters” in Cali, Columbia.
Nearly 500 delegates from more than 40 countries gathered to discuss this important topic, including ministries of educational and other government officials; education practitioners and educators; researchers and experts; bilateral, multilateral, and other development partners; private sector stakeholders; representatives of youth organizations; representatives of media; and representatives of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations.
The Forum aimed to promote educational policies and practices that foster inclusion and to share promising policies and practices, to review progress in policy and practice since the Salamanca Conference 25 years ago, where a statement was adopted, laying down the fundamental principal of inclusion at school: “All children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have. Inclusive schools must recognize and respond to the diverse needs of their students.” The Forum also aimed to help clarify the potential of inclusion in education in bringing new opportunities in a digitalized and globalized world, in view of technological, economic, and social transformation. The Trust was also invited to participate in several parallel sessions, which explored the importance of inclusion in early childhood development.
What is inclusive education? Inclusive education is: To Have Access, To Participate, To Belong, and To Learn. It is an acknowledgement that every learner matters. Our responsibility is to remove barriers to access, participation, belonging, and to learning… so that every child can have an equitable chance to develop and build on their own individual talents and interests.
Over the span of the Forum, participants exchanged experience, knowledge, and expertise to inform our work. Teachers, school directors, policy makers, and educational activists have a unique opportunity to build a more equitable and inclusive environment in schools, paving the way for a more equitable and inclusive culture and society. This is a both a challenge and a privilege!
Ms. Perrine traveled to Cali with the generous support of Open Society Foundation, London.