ACHIEVING EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE QUALITY OF EDUCATION: THE ROLE OF TEACHERS (Part 1)

All fingers are not equal but every child’s right to education is.The SDG 4 seeks to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. UN states that education is key for many other SDGs to be achieved, since quality education contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty for many children.
The diversity in socio-economic status, tribe, physical and mental abilities/disabilities, gender, and several factors that define a child tend to make some appear more qualified to receive education but it’s all a mirage! Every child deserves to receive education-and not just any kind of education but quality education. Education that does not enhance competence during and after leaving school is no education at all.
According to UNESCO, equity involves special action taken to reverse the historical and social disadvantages that prevent children from accessing and benefiting from education on equal grounds. Equitable education is that which doesn’t give room for partiality in the distribution of access to quality education. There is no bias on the basis of race, tribe, gender, religion, local government, state, zone etc. This implies that conditions of individuals do not interfere with the potentials of educational pursuit.
Inclusive education entails full-time placement of children with various forms of disabilities in the classroom. The UN call for inclusive education marks a new approach to education globally. The Salamanca frameworks of action states that regular schools with an inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitude, creating receptive communities, and building an inclusive society. UNESCO views inclusion as a dynamic approach of responding positively to pupil diversity and to see individual differences not as problems but as opportunities for enriching the learning process.
Understanding the power of education to reduce poverty, improve lives of individuals and groups, and transform societies will bring us to the realization that failure to develop schools capable of educating all children not only leads to an educational underclass, but also a social and economic underclass which has serious consequences for society now and in future.
In most part of the world, especially in developing countries, there is a struggle in meeting up with the UN goal for education in 2030.The obstacles include but are not limited to: lack of trained inclusive education teachers, exclusive nature of public and private schools, government policies that do not support adequate/equal circulation of funds, curriculums are not generally-binding, negative attitude of learners, parents and regular teachers. Building more schools and hiring more teachers is insufficient. It will never be about the number of schools but about the quality of education received.
It is clear that qualified teachers are crucial in building more inclusive schools. Illiterate parents may not facilitate or promote their children’s education; they normally have low expectations for what education can provide to their families. In addition to this, parents may not have the capabilities to help children with school work at home. Therefore assigning quality teachers can mitigate socioeconomic factors affecting learning outcomes. But how do teachers feel about this task? And how do they perceive their roles, status and identity?

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