Salamanca Statement

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The Salamanca Statement (UNESCO, 1994) says:

Regular schools with this inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building inclusive society and achieving education for all; moreover, they provide an effective education to the majority of children and improve the efficiency and ultimately the cost effectiveness of the entire education system.

(Quote from the Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education at: http://inclusion.uwe.ac.uk/csie/slmca/htm)

Discuss the Salamanca Statement; what are the implications for society, schools and individual pupils? The Salamanca Statement (1994) could be seen as one of the most influential policy documents on inclusion. As a whole the statement was the adopted principles of a number of participants representing ninety-two governments and twenty-five international organisations who formed the 1994 world conference on Special Needs Education held in Salamanca Spain. The conference agreed a new statement calling for all children, youth and adults with disabilities and additional educational needs to be educated together, pushing forward the idea for: “...schools for all...” (UNESCO 1994)

The Salamanca Statement (1994) is made up of two documents the second part of the statement being the Framework of Action on Special Needs Education, this too was also adopted by the world conference with the main purpose to guide and inform the actions and policy used by education officials, governments and non-governmental organisations and communities when implementing equality of opportunities to all children by taking on an inclusive way of life. In this essay I will be looking at the implications of adopting the five principles of the Salamanca Statement (1994) for individual pupils, schools and society.

“.....every child has a fundamental right to education and must be given the opportunity to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of learning,” (UNESCO 1994). It is written in the Salamanca Statement (1994) that the most effective way to create welcoming communities is with schools that follow an inclusive orientation. The inclusion of Special Education Needs children in mainstream schools has the possible effect of encouraging and building a level of acceptance and respect of individual differences regardless of their disability, level of ability, gender or race. Although it might be said that inclusive schools can be part of a “welcoming community” to state it as the “most effective means” is just one of many discourses. The overall belief behind the Salamanca Statement (1994) is an idealistic one that requires a level of commitment from schools and their surrounding communities. As discriminatory attitudes are still quite widespread some Special Education Needs children may find that they are still being subjected to these attitudes within the mainstream settings. Changing the attitudes of others is a step towards tackling the type of ignorance that leads to this kind of discrimination. By implementing positive attitudes from an early age with the aid from supportive adults who are committed to facilitating the interactions between children with Special Education Needs and those without and the increase of daily interactions through inclusion between the two, helps to move the individuals closer to positive attitudes which can lead to creating an environment of sensitivity, understanding. Educating individuals and combating fears of the “unknown” can lead to inclusion enabling the child with Special Education Needs to express themselves and be able to move on in their own learning. However the use and need of extra support and provisions within mainstream schools which are generally used to assist children with special education needs could be in turn be what may reinforce drawing attention to their disability or educational needs highlighting their differences from the majority of the class which...
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