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Belgium & the Netherlands: how can the government create an inclusive education system?

November 26th 2018

Finding inspiration and gathering ideas on inclusive education: that was the goal of the international conference on 8 and 9 October. For this two-day conference, Unia joined forces with the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights and received support from the OHCHR Regional Office in Brussels.

More than 70 academic experts, policymakers, education professionals, and disabled persons organizations (DPO’s) attended the conference and took part in interactive debates. The goal? Finding inspiration and gathering concrete ideas on how governments can create an inclusive education system.

Everyone has the right to inclusive education

The right to education is a right to inclusive education. This was clarified by Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Nevertheless, the implementation of Article 24 CRPD has been difficult so far and created a lot of uncertainty. There is a support base for inclusion, but we need innovative and concrete ideas on how governments can create an inclusive education system in practice. The main question is therefore:" How can we advance the development of inclusive education, in a way that meets the needs of children, parents and teachers? ’’

Conference outcome

Els Keytsman (director of Unia) explains: "The conference resulted in several conclusions that participants agreed on:

  • Political will and courage is needed to realize an inclusive education system;
  • The path to inclusion requires a long-term strategy, with clear objectives and a detailed timeline;
  • Communication plays a key role: we have to bridge the information gap;
  • Creating partnerships and solidarity is crucial, we need to bring people together around inclusion".

What happens after the conference?

The two-day conference is the starting point for further consultation with inclusion experts, persons with disabilities, teachers and other education professionals. Based on the conference outcomes, Unia will present concrete ideas and good practices to the government to help overcome obstacles in the development of an inclusive education system. Read more about the conference here.