A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education was developed by the United Nations educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2017. The guide focuses on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) which calls for inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all by 2030. SDG 4 also calls for education facilities that are child -, disability-, and gender-sensitive and that provide safe, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
The guide aims to help countries to take steps to address marginalisation, exclusion and inequality, and to find ways of including all learners. It is built around an assessment framework that serves to:
- review how well national policies take account of equity and inclusion;
- decide the actions needed to improve policies to implement equitable and inclusive education systems;
- monitor progress as actions are taken.
Overall, this process aims to create system-wide change for overcoming barriers to quality educational access, participation, learning processes and outcomes and to ensure that all learners are valued and engaged equally.
By examining four dimensions – concepts, policy statements, structures and systems, and practices – the guide outlines each dimension’s key features, drawing on international research and best practice. It also builds upon recent resources published by UNESCO International Bureau of Education and on the 2009 UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education.
The final section of the guide presents a review framework, highlighting areas to be examined and statements to reflect levels of progress towards the central message, which emphasises that ‘every learner matters and matters equally’.