Inclusive Education Policies
The Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities, the World Declaration on Education for All, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, and the Salamanca Statement are a key series of conventions and declarations that have been enacted through the influence of the disability movement in various countries.
The CRPD aims to ensure children with disabilities full participation in education and society and receive the full range of human rights. Article 24 of the CRPD states that “persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability, that children with disabilities are not excluded from free and compulsory primary education or from secondary education, on the basis of disability.” CRPD mandates that governments recognize disabled people's rights to an education and ensure an inclusive education system.
The Salamanca World Conference, which produced the Salamanca Statement, proclaimed the need to
recognize that every child has unique characteristics, interests, abilities and learning needs, and that education systems should be designed and educational programmes implemented to take into account the wide diversity of these characteristics and needs… . The statement asserts … regular schools with this inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all.
A critical reading of the African union policy documents shows that disability is not clearly understood from a human rights perspective. Instead, disability issues and people with disabilities “are often seen by policy-makers as an afterthought, when compared with other minority groups, such as women and children.”
African Union policy documents suggest that education receives a higher priority level within disability inclusion than do the other policy domains, such as health or rights protection. However, upon closer review, this mention of inclusion in educational policies is generally in relation to special education services for children with disabilities in segregated settings; this is not advocating for inclusive education practices and the education of children with disabilities alongside their normally developing peers. Many special and inclusive education programs across East Africa are limited in scope within the national education systems and service provision for children with disabilities.