How to define an Inclusive School?
To begin with, it is essential to make clear that an inclusive school is a right: the right, for each child to go to school like all the others and to receive an education adapted to his or her needs. Remember that the concept of handicap depends on the social context in which the person is living. In this way, someone in a wheelchair is handicapped when dealing with stairs but autonomous before a ramp. In the same way, a child who benefits from teaching adapted to his specific needs, doesn't need to present difficulties, since he/she is not regarded as outside the norm but having the right to be who he/she is, surrounded by his peers.
According to UNESCO in 2001 (translated by S. Thomazet) « the founding principle of an inclusive school is that any school must be able to welcome, in as natural a way as possible, all young people, adapting to the needs of each one. Inclusive education is concerned with all children, but taking a special interest in those who have missed learning opportunities, such as those with special needs and handicaps, or else those belonging to ethnic or linguistic minorities. »1 In other words, a school for everyone.
According to the website of the DIP2, these are the objectives of an inclusive school:
- Offer a quality education while respecting the diversity, the needs and the abilities of each student
- Maximize the intellectual, physical and social intelligence of everyone
- Assure a climate of non-discrimination
1 THOMAZET Serge (2008), « L’intégration a des limites, pas l’école inclusive ! ». Revue des sciences de l’éducation, volume 34, numéro 1, p. 123-139. http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/018993ar
2 Website of the Geneva Department of Education to learn about the policy of inclusiveness favored by the Geneva school system: http://www.ge.ch/dip/ecole-inclusive