Inclusive Education

A teacher sitting in between two children. She's looking into the camera, and there are lots of children in the background sitting at desks.

Sense International supports the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) Article 24 (2016) which requires States to ensure realisation of the right of persons with disabilities to education through an inclusive education system at all levels.

UNCRPD Article 24 mentions deafblindness in paragraph 3c:

“States Parties shall enable persons with disabilities to learn life and social development skills to facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community. To this end, States Parties shall take appropriate measures, including:

c) Ensuring that the education of persons, and in particular children, who are blind, deaf or deafblind, is delivered in the most appropriate languages and modes and means of communication for the individual, and in environments which maximize academic and social development.”

We recognise that the achievement of inclusive education systems is subject to progressive realisation: it cannot be expected to happen overnight. Currently, in many contexts, national education policies, practices and resources leave ‘mainstream’ education settings unable to offer people with deafblindness the opportunity for education that they are entitled to.  So, as a priority we urge States to invest in their education systems to bring about the policy, practice and resource improvements needed to facilitate inclusive education. We also recognise that since ‘mainstream’ settings often remain unable to offer access to a quality education for some learners with deafblindness, there needs to be a blend / range of options that support individual learners’ needs whilst continuing to promote the concept of inclusion.

Sense International’s role in promoting and supporting inclusive education varies depending on the national education context and existing government and NGO capacity. Our role is to be a facilitator and collaborator. We contribute to the system-wide changes that are needed and work together with others to bring our unique expertise into inclusive education initiatives.

We have outlined our approach in the document Inclusive Education for Children with Deafblindness / Multi-sensory Impairment.  This ‘model’ was created through consulting with our teams across the world, discussions with young people with deafblindness and desk research.

Key principles for Sense International’s approach to inclusive education

  • We focus on contributions towards change.
  • We acknowledge the long-term pathways for change: there is no quick-fix solution.  
  • Our work follows a twin-track approach: striving to ensure learners with deafblindness are appropriately supported in inclusive mainstream settings AND developing innovative inclusive education solutions in diverse other settings for learners for whom inclusion in a mainstream setting is not yet a viable option.A group of young women standing in front of a school blackboard.
  • We believe that quality inclusive education is not limited to formal settings.

In Tanzania we have shown that one-to-one support from ‘Teaching Assistants’ for learners with deafblindness / multi-sensory impairment enables them to learn and thrive in ‘mainstream’ schools local to their homes. Find out more about this approach in the document A Review of Sense International Tanzania’s Teaching Assistant Approach to Inclusive Education.

First published: Wednesday 11 March 2020
Last updated: Wednesday 11 March 2020