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2020 GEM Report – Inclusion and education: all means all

Within its remit to assess progress towards achieving the 10 targets of SDG 4 (Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all), the 2020 edition of UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report puts a special focus on inclusion in education. The report looks into the obstacles for achieving inclusive education environments, into support needs for students, teachers and systems, as well as the different interpretations of inclusion, both in policy and practice.

 “A key barrier to inclusion in education is the lack of belief that it is possible and desirable” is one of the key messages from the GEM report. This refers to culturally oblivious teaching practices or lack of professional development opportunities for teachers, systemic segregation of student groups by ability or origin, lack of targeted funding for the learning communities most in need of support. The available data collected for the report confirm how much background, identity and ability impact on the education opportunities, paired with discrimination and stigmatisation, leading to millions out of school or with only the lowest education levels. 

With the view to supporting more inclusive education and towards the 2030 targets, the report puts forward 10 recommendations, calling for a paradigm shift from seeing diversity as a problem to seeing it as an opportunity. The recommendations call for

  • Widening the understanding of inclusive education, including all learners from an early age and across education sectors.
  • Targeted funding for those left behind and ensure early interventions for the disadvantaged
  • Share expertise and resources to distribute them more equally and have flexible mechanism and incentives in place to provide adequate expert support.
  • Engage with communities and parents in a meaningful way and encourage grassroots initiatives and everyone’s contribution to the design of policies and curricula.
  • Ensure cooperation of all governmental levels – national, regional. Local and across sectors and departments of ministries responsible for inclusion.
  • Ensure dialogue between governments and NGOs, and allow civil society representatives to monitor progress in the commitments made at central level.
  • Apply universal design to meet learners’ diverse needs in a flexible and accessible learning environment, with formative assessment methods which appreciate different learning styles.
  • Support teachers through education and training provision (initial education or professional development) that helps them meet the needs of a diverse classroom.
  • Collect data on and for inclusion to help define policies and funding priorities, while ensuring no learner is harmed in the process.
  • Learn from peers through different communities of practice: teacher networks, national, regional or global forums, etc.

The full GEM report and a summary are available here.