Inclusive education

An inclusive education not only responds and adapts to each learner’s needs, but is relevant to their society and respectful of culture - a two-way dignified process. 

Inclusion is about putting the right to education into action by reaching out to all learners, respecting their diverse needs, abilities and characteristics and eliminating all forms of discrimination in the learning environment.  It should guide education policies and practices, starting from the fact that education is a basic human right and the foundation for a more just and equal society.

Inclusion is both a principle and process, arising from a clear recognition that exclusion happens not only from education but also within education; it requires adapting and or transforming the education systems at large, notably the way in which schools and other learning settings adapt their learning and teaching practices to cater for all learners with respect to diversity. This requires attention to a wide range of interventions, among them the curriculum, the nature of teaching and the quality of the learning environment. It means schools and learning settings should not only be academically effective but also friendly, safe, clean and healthy and gender responsive.  

Inclusion requires adopting a holistic approach to education from early childhood onwards to incorporate the learning concerns of marginalized and excluded groups and addresses the four pillar of learning (learning to know, to do, to live together and to be). 

The World Conference on Special Needs Education in Salamanca, Spain (1994) was the major impetus to an inclusive education. The Conference proclaimed that “regular schools with (an) inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all…”.

This vision was reaffirmed by the World Education Forum meeting in Dakar, 2000.  The Forum declared that Education for All must take account of the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged, including working children, remote rural dwellers and nomads, ethnic and linguistic minorities, children, young people and adults affected by HIV and AIDS, hunger and poor health, and those with disabilities or special needs.  

Related links


Leaving no one behind

Education for All in Burundi


Inclusive education infographic