A meeting of experts and practitioners of special education/ inclusive education to review the draft script of the toolkit held on 6-7 February 2013 in Islamabad as to help improve the draft script of the toolkit.
The participants included from Special Education Department, Govt. of Punjab, Directorate of Staff Development, Govt. of Punjab, University of Punjab, Lahore, Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad, teachers, head teachers and managers from schools and colleges of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), representatives of relevant Civil Society Organizations of Punjab and Islamabad.
Recently, Pakistan has taken a number of historical steps towards Inclusive Education under the framework of Education for All. These include; recognition of access of all children aged 5-16 including disabled children to free and compulsory education as a fundamental right through constitutional amendment during April 2010, and ratification of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 5th July 2011.
UNESCO has been supporting provision of educational opportunities to the children with special needs. Salamanca Statement and Framework of Action on Special Needs Education, supported by UNESCO during 1994, underlined inclusive orientation of regular education systems to meet learning needs of disabled children without any discrimination. During 2011-12, UNESCO Islamabad office extended technical assistance to relevant organizations for raising awareness about obligations and commitments of Pakistan with respect to CRPD and promotion of inclusive education in the country. UNESCO has supported Department of Special Education, University of the Punjab, Lahore for development of a toolkit on Inclusive Education.
Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Director UNESCO Islamabad, in her inaugural speech, appreciated Special Education Department, Govt. of Punjab for their initiation of policy dialogue for promotion of inclusive education and for taking certain strategic actions. She acknowledged the professional contribution by the Department of Special Education, University of Punjab, Lahore, for preparing first draft of the toolkit on Inclusive Education. This toolkit has been developed to introduce and promote the concept of inclusive education and impart knowledge and skills to the educationists for creation of inclusive environment in schools, she informed the participants. She hoped the significant contribution of the participants to improve and enrich content of the toolkit would pave the way for expanding educational opportunities for the disabled children in Pakistan.
After two days' extensive reviewing the draft toolkit on inclusive education, the participants appreciated the good work done by the team and recommend very strongly that the effort should continue to make it more purposive even if more financial input is required.
The efforts of the team and umbrella of UNESCO were warmly acknowledged. However, by incorporating the suggestions would be more useful for the use of general teachers for the purpose of inclusion, they added.
In the light of suggestions and recommendations, extended by the participating experts, UNESCO Islamabad intends to revise and update Toolkit on Inclusive Education for better and wider use by practitioners of inclusive education in Pakistan.