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International Resources

The Inclusive Schools Network aims to connect the international inclusive education community through shared knowledge, stories, ideas and the experiences of all those working toward building more inclusive schools.

In the International Inclusive Education section of the ISN Website you can:

  • Explore the history of international inclusive education;
  • Access key international instruments and conventions that support international inclusive education;
  • Read reports and news briefs;
  • Learn more about global organizations working on inclusive education;
  • Read stories about international inclusive schools.  


new.pngArticle: Our Global Partners: An Experience in Shared Leadership

Mary V. Kealy, EdD

President, CASE


Article: Inclusive Education in Vietnam

by Dieu-Anh Nguyen

Associate, Stetson & Associates


Education is the key to development, reducing poverty, improving health and overall stability worldwide. Yet, according to the United Nations, 69 million children* are excluded from education throughout the world. About half of these children who are out of school live in 15 countries, with the greater part of them from sub-Saharan Africa and West Asia. A

smiling-girl-UNESCOT-Ministerio-de-Educaci-n.png majority of them are girls. Approximately 90 percent of children with disabilities in developing countries do not attend school. Across continents, children are excluded from school for different reasons: poverty, gender inequity, disability, child labor, speaking a minority language, belonging to an indigenous people, living a nomadic or rural lifestyle and living in a war-torn country.

By expanding access to school, improving the quality of learning and providing basic education to all people, the world gets closer to ensuring its citizens have the knowledge and skills that they need to live healthy and productive lives.   

isn-logo-trans.pngThe Inclusive Schools Network joins the global movement promoting inclusive education by supporting schools around the world that are on a journey toward becoming more inclusive. By connecting schools, communities, teachers, and students in different places where schools may be more, or even much less, inclusive than ours, we have the opportunity to share our own knowledge, stories, ideas and learn from the experiences of others who share our vision.

Explore the history and key international instruments and conventions that support international inclusive education.To learn more about inclusive education worldwide, check out these resources on our website: 

  • Read reports, news briefs and become familiar with organizations working on international efforts for inclusive education.

  • Join the Global Forum on Inclusive Schools to connect with other around the globe who are involved in the international inclusive schools movement. [Coming Soon]

    teacher-UNESCOT-Ms-Shufiya-Akter-with-12-year-old-Laboni-at-the-at-the-community-learning-centre..png*According to preliminary estimates from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics in March 2010. J. Kugelmass. 2004. What is a Culture of Inclusion? School of Education and Human Development, Binghampton University, USA. 


Key Instruments Supporting International Inclusive Education

The right of children to have access to inclusive education is widely supported in international human rights law, international conventions ratified by its members and the majority of human rights instruments.

The concept and practice of inclusive education has gained worldwide attention in the past few decades. From the launching of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 to the more recent UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the global community has supported the vision of transforming policy and practice toward educating all children.

Several key instruments that support the goal of creating inclusive environments for learning without discrimination on any grounds include:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)


Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1448, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created to guarantee the rights of every individual everywhere.  The UNHR was the first international recognition that all people have fundamental rights and freedoms. This declaration laid the groundwork for future instruments protecting the specific rights of children and including education as a basic human right.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979)

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women is often described as an international bill of rights for women. Consisting of a preamble and 30 articles, it defines what constitutes discrimination against women and sets up an agenda for national action to end such discrimination.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) 

-UNESCO-D.-Willetts-small.jpgThe Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights—civil, cultural, economic, political, and social. In 1989, world leaders decided that children needed a special convention because people under 18 years old often need special care and protection as apart from adults. The leaders also wanted to make sure that the world recognized that children have human rights as well.

The Convention establishes the basic human rights for children everywhere: the right to survival; the right to develop to the fullest; the right to protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and the right to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. The four core principles of the Convention are nondiscrimination; devotion to the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child.

Salamanca Statement (1994) on Inclusive Education

The World Conference on Special Needs Education in June 1994 is considered to be the impetus for inclusive education worldwide. The Salamanca Statement, a product of the conference, and accompanyinggmr2011-photo-colombia-5-UNESCO-Ministerio-de-Educaci-n-small.jpg framework for action represent a worldwide consensus on future directions for the education of children with special needs. The statement affirms the right to education of every individual, regardless of individual differences, within the regular education system and the right of children with special educational needs to receive whatever extra support they may require to ensure their effective education. Governments and the international community are urged to adopt the principle of inclusive education among several other actions.

The Dakar Framework for Action (2000) 

The Dakar Framework for Action is the frame of reference for the Education for All initiative, the United Nation’s primary commitment to provide quality basic education for al children, youth and adults. During the World Education Forum meeting in April 2000 in Dakar, Senegal, the vision established by the Salamanca Statement was reaffirmed. The Dakar Framework for Action avowed the goal of Education for All and commits governments to achieving quality basic education for all by 2015 or earlier, with particular emphasis on girls’ education, and includes a pledge from donor countries and institutions that “no country seriously committed to basic education will be thwarted in the achievement of this goal by lack of resources.”  The framework mandates that UNESCO coordinate the partnerships between UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and the World Bank towards reaching the goals of Education for All.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) 

This UN Convention is the most recent human rights instrument incorporating the message of inclusion for all people in education and other areas of life. The purpose of the convention is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights by persons with disabilities. It covers a number of key areas such as accessibility, personal mobility, health, education, employment, habilitation, and rehabilitation, participation in political life, and equality and nondiscrimination. The convention marks a shift in thinking about disability from a social welfare concern, to a human rights issue, which acknowledges that societal barriers and prejudices are themselves disabling.

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)


The international community, through the UN, targeted eight goals whichrange from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Goal #2 is achieving universal primary education for all children by the target date of 2015. These goals form a blueprint agreed to by all the world’s countries and all the world’s leading development institutions.

International Organizations Supporting Inclusive Education

Education for All

global-ed.pngGlobal Campaign for EducationThe Education for All (EFA) movement is a global commitment to provide quality basic education for all children, youth, and adults. The movement was launched at the World Conference on Education for All in  1990, when agreed to universalize primary education and massively reduce illiteracy by the end of the decade. Ten years later, with many countries far from having reached this goal, the international community met again in Dakar, Senegal, and affirmed their commitment to achieving Education for All by the year 2015. Visit the UNESCO website for resources related to the Education for All initiative, including a list of online tools intended to help achieve the goals of the UNESCO EFA movement. 

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) is a civil society movement that aims to end the global education crisis. The GCE's mission is to make sure that governments act now to deliver the right of every girl, boy, woman and man to a free quality public education. GCE campaigns throughout the year mobilizing pressure from all sectors and holding governments and international institutions to account.  Some of the activities that GCE sponsors are: Global Action Week, year round campaigning and global advocacy.

atlas-alliance.pngThe Atlas Alliance is a Norwegian based umbrella organization for the development work of disabled people’s organizations, and patient’s organizations. Their goal is to promote human rights and better living conditions for people with disabilities. They have several publications about international inclusive education available online in English.


Mobility International USA

MIUSA.gifThe mission of Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is to empower people with disabilities around the world to achieve their human rights through international exchange and international development. MIUSA works in four main areas to provide international programs and services including: the National Clearinghouse on Disability and Exchange, International Development and Disability, MIUSA International Exchange Programs and Women, Disability and Development.


Inclusion Europe

inclusion-europe.pngInclusion Europe is supported by the European Commission and serves as a resource for individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout Europe. The organization works in 3 areas: exchange of information, support for members and influencing policy. Visit their website to find out more about their events, publications and online resources available in 23 languages.


Inclusion International (II)

inclusion-international.pngII is a global federation of family-based organizations advocating for the human rights of people with intellectual disabilities and their families worldwide. The contents of the site are available in English, Spanish, and French. II and its members focus on the rights of people with disabilities and their families, inclusive education, poverty reduction, self-advocacy, and much more.


International Networking 

enet.gifEnabling Education Network (EENET) is a UK-based, information-sharing network on the issue of inclusive education. The network is open to the international community. The purpose of the network is to share information and encourage conversations and debates about inclusion and rights in education. EENET is committed to prioritizing the needs of countries, organizations, and individuals who have limited access to basic information and resources.

inclusion-com.gifBased in Toronto, Canada, comprises the Inclusion Press, the Inclusion Network, and the Marsha Forest Centre. creates resource materials for training events, public schools, high schools, community colleges, universities, human service agencies, health organizations, government agencies, families, and First Nations organizations—nationally and internationally.


International Disability Alliance

ida.pngThe International Disability Alliance (IDA) represents more than 600 million people with disabilities worldwide. The alliance comprises the following eight international organizations of and for people with disabilities: Inclusion International, International Federation of Hard of Hearing People, World Blind Union, Disabled Peoples’ International, Rehabilitation International, World Federation of the Deaf, World Federation of the Deafblind, World Network of Users, and Survivors of Psychiatry. The alliance acts as a spokesperson for the international disability movement in global policy matters and of facilitating cooperation and exchanges of information between the international disability organizations.


Open Society Institute 

open-society.gifThe purpose of the Open Society Institute (OSI) is to shape public policy to promote democratic governance; human rights; and economic, legal, and social reform. The mission of OSI’s Education Support Program is to promote justice in education, aiming to strengthen advocacy, innovation, and activism. OSI believes that the way a society organizes its resources to provide a quality education, particularly for vulnerable children, is a fundamental marker for democracy and an open society.


The World Bank 

world-bank.pngThe World Bank’s strategic thrust is to help countries integrate education into national economic strategies and develop holistic education systems responsive to national socio-economic needs. They are a partner in the Education for All international movement.  This website includes a key publication, “Inclusive Education: Achieving EFA by Including Those With Disabilities and Special Education Needs.”


Reports, Documents and Media Resources

New International Publication

A Place to learn: Lessons from research on learning environments 

The choice of 300+ sources, 91 background references and 58 studies that were reviewed and used to develop a new publication on learning environments by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics were guided by the simple question:

How can schools and other learning places create optimal conditions for learning?

This new publication presents a comprehensive review of research on learning environments from multiple perspectives focusing most intensely on the physical conditions, psychosocial environment and/or organizational climate of classrooms, schools and other learning spaces. The publication offers new strategies for assessing and improving the quality of learning environments across settings. 

 To download a PDF of this globally relevant document visit UNESCO’s website at

International Film

first-grader.jpgThe First Grader

Director Justin Chadwick and National Geographic films challenge the scope of what it means for schools to be inclusive by documenting the true story of an 84 year old man who is illiterate from Kenya who fights for his right to be included in a local elementary school. The award winning “The First Grader” is now available on DVD.  

This inspiring movie has been shown around the world to promote awareness of the challenges of basic education in the developing world. Schools and organizations have reported scheduling viewings at conferences and meetings as a springboard to discuss broader issues of inclusion.   There is also a Teacher Guide available for download from the film website with suggested lesson plans for classrooms (the movie is rated PG-13). For more information, to view a movie trailer visit


World Report on Disability

world-report.jpgThe World Report on Disability was launched on 9 June 2011 at UN Headquarters. This jointly published report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank summarizes the best available scientific evidence on disability and makes recommendations for action to support the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). The report will also provide new disability prevalence estimates, identify the needs of people with disabilities, and highlight what works to ensure their access to health and rehabilitation services, education, and employment among others. To read the report, go to


A World for Inclusion

unesco-logo.gif"A World for Inclusion" is a film about the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular article 24 on education. Using footage from schools in Kenya, Finland and Turkey, it addresses the situation of children with disabilities worldwide and the importance of getting them into school. It also contains interviews and commentary from stakeholders and experts and some 50 educational resources such as toolkits and policy guidelines. Download this documentary at


Inclusive Education-Where There are Few Resources

atlas-alliance.pngThis report provides an overview of critical issues related to inclusive education in areas where there are limited financial resources. With an in-depth explanation of inclusion world-wide and strategies for implementation it is a critical resource for professionals and organizations working toward developing inclusive schools in developing countries.


Young Voices: Young People’s Views of Inclusive Education


This book and film highlights the views and photography of several young people with and without disabilities in Tanzania and Uganda. Through dialogue and pictures the youth express what makes them feel excluded and included in education. The aim of the project is to encourage others to think about what makes their schools inclusive and to overcome barriers toward making their schools more inclusive for all young people.


Count Me In: Developing Inclusive International Schools

count-me-in-cover.gifDeveloped by the U. S. Department of State, Count Me In! is written for classroom and special educators and administrators in international schools, both small and large. It is written by teachers and administrators in those same schools. It contains contributions from educational practitioners from Yaounde, Johannesburg, Lusaka, Nairobi, and Dar es Salaam, as well as important input from U.S. consultants. While this resource has been written for colleagues in African international schools, classroom teachers and special educators may find the chapters on theory, collaboration, and strategies for practice particularly relevant. Administrators may find the chapters on policy development, recruitment, and professional development more pertinent to their roles as school leaders. The purpose of this book is to ask teachers and administrators to rethink the place of the exceptional child within both the school and the regular classroom and to provide practical strategies that classroom teachers can use with exceptional children. Go to for more information.


Making Schools Inclusive: How Change Can Happen

save-the-children.pngDrawing on Save the Children UK's extensive experience in this field, Making Schools Inclusive is a report that presents program examples from 13 countries around the world. It describes case study programs that target specific groups of vulnerable children, build inclusive school communities, promote change throughout an education system and address financial barriers to inclusive education.  This report offers inspiration about what can be achieved as well as drawing out practical learning from the challenges faced in different situations.  Download this free publication at


Embracing Diversity: Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments

embracing.jpgThis toolkit, designed for teachers, administrators or anyone interested in teaching diverse learners, provides useful tools to make schools and classrooms more welcoming to all children, parents and teachers. The toolkit contains 6 booklets, each of which has tools and activities to be used in a group or self-study situation.  Topics include ideas to create and manage inclusive classrooms, how to include families and community building.


Welcoming Schools: Stories of International Inclusive Schools

classroom-UNESCOT-D.-Willetts.pngThese inspirational stories about inclusive schools around the world are compiled in a publication Welcoming Schools. To read more about these schools and other schools that are on the journey toward becoming more inclusive go to


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