Inclusive Education: Barriers and Solutions


If viewed as a product, inclusive education represents the victory over all types of barriers that try to block it during the implementation. If viewed as a process, inclusive education is a powerful instrument capable of transforming an educational system, gradually turning it from exclusionary to inclusive. In both views, we can note the presence of all educational aspects that need to be either maintained or improved, the visibility of the barriers that need to be overcome.

For almost two decades, – considering 1994 the year in which, in Brazil, the first attempts of implementation of the concept of inclusive schools were undertaken by isolated and, sometimes, precariously instructed actions – I have heard criticisms and compliments with respect to inclusive education, equally as a product and as a process. In the same period, I have witnessed or learned of successful, partially successful and totally failed experiences. To which barriers could we assign this partial or total failure?

After observing and studying written or oral accounts of these experiences and comparing them to the ones I have directly lived through my job as a consultant on inclusive education, I offer the following suggestions, considering that the barriers can be both of quantitative and qualitative nature: 

1) The quantitative barriers refer to the limited scope of the actions that attempt to implement inclusive education in ordinary schools, public and private, existing in all municipalities of the country. This limitation reveals the fact that most of the funding directed to education is being used for other purposes. Solution: Raise the political will of leaders and managers in all regions of Brazil, in the sense of making the whole educational system more inclusive. 

2) The qualitative barriers refer to the inadequacy of teaching and administrative practices carried out in ordinary schools that were chosen or are being chosen to become inclusive. Solution: Imbue these practices with the following principles: (A) Singularity. Each student is unique; in this sense, the school needs to set individualized goals along with the student and/or his family. (B) Multiple Intelligences. The teacher, when teaching the content of their discipline, needs to stimulate and use each student’s entire brain. (C) Learning style. The teacher, when preparing their lessons, needs to focus on each student’s learning peculiarities. (D) Learning evaluation. The school needs to adopt the system based on selfhood (to compare the assessment of each student with other assessments of the same student, not of other students), on continuity (all classes serve as evidence of learning) and on inclusiveness (assessments should help to include and not to exclude the student). (E) Coherence. The whole school needs to adopt inclusive attitudes: teachers and staff must undergo periodic training on inclusive education.

Romeu Kazumi Sassaki is a consultant on inclusive education, activist in rights of the disabled person and author of the book "Inclusion: Building a society for all". This article was originally published at the Incluir magazine, São Paulo, n. 12, july/august 2011, pg. 53.
©Rodrigo Mendes Institute. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 2.5. The copying, distribution and transmission of this work are free, under the following conditions: You must credit the work as authored by Romeu Kazumi Sassaki and licensed by Rodrigo Mendes Institute; the use for commercial purposes is forbidden; the change, transformation or building upon this work is forbidden, except with express permission of the licensor.

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