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Socio-cultural barriers to schooling

Promising policy options

Enrolment and awareness-rising campaigns and actions supported by strong advocacy from civil society

Enrolment and awareness-raising campaigns allow the gradual break down of socio-cultural barriers to schooling for certain children with disabilities, those belonging to a particular ethnic or religious group, social class, and/or sexual and gender minority. In order to create an impact through these campaigns, strong advocacy support from civil society is needed, with the involvement of multiple stakeholders such as teachers, education officers, local authorities, children, families, parents’ organizations, Disability People’s Organizations (DPO), religious and cultural leaders, among others is essential in the process.

Some particular actions are:

  • community mobilization campaigns. Mobilize public opinion on the right to education for all. Build consensus around the concept of inclusive education and its underlying values (e.g. viewing diversity as a positive aspect);
  • identify ‘champions’ within the community to support schooling for all and tackle down discriminatory practices that inhibit children’s access and retention in school. For example, in Tanzania, twenty leaders, including imams, became champions and helped addressed gender issues such as child marriage and early pregnancy (UNESCO, 2017);
  • partnerships with national and local media to disseminate information about the importance of education while deconstructing socio-cultural beliefs against schooling. Develop inclusive media programmes. For example, an example of a successful campaign done in Nepal with the support of Save the Children UK, where stories of children with disabilities who accessed schools all over the country were publicised and helped raise awareness on their right to education (Save the Children, 2002). Develop motivational material presented in posters, story-telling articles, audio-visual content, etc.;
  • disseminate information through social media. For example, Chile’s campaign Educate with Equality, ‘Eduquemos con Igualdad’ (Santibanez and Honeyman, 2017);
  • engage community members, children and NGOs to organize artistic awareness-raising campaigns on their communities such as ‘street-drama’. For example, the Child Club initiative in Nepal (Nepal, 2014);
  • encourage civil society organizations to give seminars, trainings, and workshops on inclusive education; and
  • Organize annual/periodical household visits to convince the parents to enrol their children in school. For example, the ‘Welcome to School’ campaign in Nepal (Nepal, 2014).
References
Banham, L.; Anhern, M. 2016. Advancing Gender Equality in Education Across GPE Countries. Washington, D.C.: Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf%0Ahttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf.

Chitrakar, R. 2009. Overcoming Barriers to Girls’ Education in South Asia – Deepening the Analysis. Kathmandu: UNICEF ROSA (United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office in South Asia). Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/resources/files/whole_book_b.pdf.

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2008a. Inclusive education: The Way of the Future, Forty-eight session of the international Conference on Education. Reference document: ED/BIE/CONFINTED 48/3. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010a. ‘Chapter 2.2: Gender’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.31-59). Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223E.pdf

Meresman, S. 2014. Parents, Family and Community Participation in Inclusive Education. New York: UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_Webinar_Booklet_13.pdf

Nepal. 2014. Ministry of Education. Consolidated Equity Strategy for the School Education Sector in Nepal. Kathmandu: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.doe.gov.np/assets/uploads/files/47441f6a3f1e62dedb7bb91655b8df92.pdf

Preston, C. n.d. Lessons on Inclusion from Uganda. Blog – IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Accessed 22 February 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/lessons-on-inclusion-from-uganda.

Santibanez, B.; Honeyman, C. 2017. Increasing teachers’ gender awareness. Blog – IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Accessed 22 February 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/increasing-teachers-gender-awareness.

Save the Children. 2002. Schools for All: Including disabled children in education. London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/schools_for_all.pdf

UNESCO. 2017. Evaluation of UNESCO’s Programme Interventions on Girls’ and Womens’ Education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000258978?posInSet=22&queryId=df97886c-2701-4a75-bfdb-46986e8ebf8e

UNESCO. 2017a. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

UNESCO. n.d. ‘Chapter: Parity’. In: GEM Report 2016. Paris: GEM Report. Accessed 22 February 2018: http://gem-report-2016.unesco.org/en/chapter/parity/.

UNICEF. n.d. Barriers to Girls’ Education, Strategies and Interventions. Accessed 26 August 2019: https://www.unicef.org/teachers/girls_ed/BarrierstoGE.pdf

Establish ‘National Enrolment Days’

Coordinate the enrolment and awareness-raising campaigns with the elaboration of ‘National Enrolment Days’ in order to disseminate information about the procedure parents/guardians must follow in order to enrol their children to school. Organize seminars and trainings to support parents/guardians and children with the official enrolment process, such as Yemen’s campaign to promote girls’ education.

References
Banham, L.; Anhern, M. 2016. Advancing Gender Equality in Education Across GPE Countries. Washington, D.C.: Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf%0Ahttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf.

UNICEF. n.d. Barriers to Girls’ Education, Strategies and Interventions. Accessed 26 August 2019: https://www.unicef.org/teachers/girls_ed/BarrierstoGE.pdf

Policy dialogue and initiatives at a local level

Enhance policy dialogue at a local level by including diverse voices in the decision-making process, such as those of women, girls, people from different ethnicities, religious groups, children or persons with disabilities, families, education groups and civil society organizations. This allows policies to be ‘rooted in local concerns and address locally relevant issues regarding the most disadvantaged children’ (Banham and Anhern, 2016: 7).

Promote cooperative, participatory, decision-making spaces where stakeholders discuss education, influence national decisions, advocate for tangible changes and make greater commitments to education at the local level (e.g. Nicaragua’s Education roundtables (UNESCO, 2017a); ‘Inclusion Committees’ in Uganda (Preston, n.d.).).

Finally, reform existing barriers to inclusion on the system, such as policies that restrict children with disabilities or those speaking different languages to access the neighbourhood school.

Mandate inclusive practices, like:

References
Banham, L.; Anhern, M. 2016. Advancing Gender Equality in Education Across GPE Countries. Washington, D.C.: Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf%0Ahttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf.

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2008a. Inclusive education: The Way of the Future, Forty-eight session of the international Conference on Education. Reference document: ED/BIE/CONFINTED 48/3. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010b. ‘Chapter 2.3: Ethnicity/Political affiliation/Religion’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.31-59). Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223E.pdf

Preston, C. n.d. Lessons on Inclusion from Uganda. Blog – IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Accessed 22 February 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/lessons-on-inclusion-from-uganda.

UNESCO. 2009c. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

UNESCO. 2017a. A guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

School’s management

Promote parental and community involvement in the school. Make sure that school management committees and parent-teacher associations have representatives from various ethnic and religious groups, DPOs and women (For more information on this subject, see Policy page Relationship between schools and their community).

Enhance a mixed recruitment by ensuring that women, religious and ethnic group members, as well as persons with disabilities are being recruited for teaching and administrative positions (For more information consult Policy page Appropriate candidates).

Provide training opportunities to teachers by:

  • helping them understand their role in inclusive education systems;
  • helping teachers to break down their negative stereotypes, attitudes, and expectations concerning particular children, such as children with disabilities; and
  • encouraging teachers to welcome and appreciate diversity and help them acquire inclusive teaching practices.

Foster the use and recognition of multiple languages, challenging the belief that only one language should be used in education and promoting the idea that children must start to learn in the language which is most familiar to them. When teachers do not speak the children’s first language, encourage partnerships with community members so that the classroom activities can be conducted in children’s first language and ensure that the language used within the classroom is inclusive and gender-responsive (For more on this subject, see Policy page Language of instruction).

Inclusive curriculums must be structured but at the same time flexible to respond to the needs of particular learners, communities, cultural and linguistic groups. Tolerance towards diversity must be instructed through curriculums so those cultural barriers are addressed, and the school becomes a welcoming space. In addition, it is important to analyse if girls, persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious groups are portrayed negatively on national curriculum and textbooks – if it is the case, it is essential to change it (For more information on this subject, consult Policy page Curriculum). Finally, implement a code of conduct in schools to minimize discriminatory practices based on ethnicity, religion, gender, disability.

References
Banham, L.; Anhern, M. 2016. Advancing Gender Equality in Education Across GPE Countries. Washington, D.C.: Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf%0Ahttps://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED574390.pdf.

IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2008a. Inclusive education: The Way of the Future, Forty-eight session of the international Conference on Education. Reference document: ED/BIE/CONFINTED 48/3. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf

UNESCO. 2009c. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

Santibanez, B.; Honeyman, C. 2017. Increasing teachers’ gender awareness. Blog – IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Accessed 22 February 2018: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/increasing-teachers-gender-awareness.

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010a. ‘Chapter 2.2: Gender’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.31-59). Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223E.pdf

Nepal. 2014. Ministry of Education. Consolidated Equity Strategy for the School Education Sector in Nepal. Kathmandu: Ministry of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.doe.gov.np/assets/uploads/files/47441f6a3f1e62dedb7bb91655b8df92.pdf

Chitrakar, R. 2009. Overcoming Barriers to Girls’ Education in South Asia – Deepening the Analysis. Kathmandu: UNICEF ROSA (United Nations Children’s Fund Regional Office in South Asia). Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/resources/files/whole_book_b.pdf.

IIEP-UNESCO. 2010b. ‘Chapter 2.3: Ethnicity/Political affiliation/Religion’. In: Guidebook for planning education in emergencies and reconstruction (pp.31-59). Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001902/190223E.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Entrenched gender-issues underly socio-cultural barriers to schooling. As such, the general section of the present Policy page was approached with this aspect in mind from the beginning.

Policies for children with disabilities

Children with disabilities are one of the most marginalized groups in society. Socio-cultural barriers are one of the strongest barriers impeding children with disabilities to access mainstream settings. As such, the general section of the present Policy page was approached with this aspect in mind from the beginning.

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

Promising policy options

Improving home involvement and engagement

Engaging parents and other caretakers plays a crucial role in optimising the educational trajectories of immigrant youth. Research reports confirm that displaced population parents value education for their children but are hesitant to pursue education as they are unfamiliar with the host communities’ school expectations and what they have to offer the students with respect to learning supports. For example, in the USA, besides the general challenges confronting many immigrants (e.g., learning English, adjusting to a new culture, family reunification), poor families must struggle each day just to meet basic survival needs (e.g., housing, food, clothing, child care) (UCLA, 2015) Students from these households have to take on extra duties at home and additionally have to find ways to earn money, increasing the drop-out rate amongst the community. It is fundamental then to develop and implement mentorship programmes and internships, in order to provide these students with support throughout their time through the education system.

Engaging the students in a Buddy System

Establishing a buddy system increases the chance of inmigrant students at an equal opportunity to succeed at school and beyond. This system also helps with addressing potential concerns about the education system effectively. Schools could transform student and learning supports into a unified and comprehensive system of support, with said system being crucial for substantially improving current approaches for transitions, enabling learning, fostering student and family assistance, and school-community-home collaborations.

For example, there are some mentorship programmes which foster better inclusion of the immigrant population. Some of those are:

References
UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). 2015. Cultural Concerns in Addressing Barriers to Learning: Introductory packet.  Centre for Mental Health in Schools. Retrieved from: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/cultural/culture.pdf

UNESCO. UNICEF. 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

Policies for minority populations

Other policy options

Improve cultural awareness of the minority populations

Achieving cultural competence to become culturally aware is important for obtaining an equitable and inclusive environment. This could be done in the following ways:

  • evaluate and assess the stakeholders’ current level of competence;
  • develop support for change throughout the schools and the community;
  • devise a comprehensive cultural competence plan with specific action steps and deadlines for achievement; and
  • commit to an ongoing evaluation of progress and a willingness to respond to change. (UNESCO 2007)

There should be an established mechanism to provide members of the minority group with opportunities to influence the various proposed activities and interventions for promoting cultural awareness. This means members of the targeted cultural group should be represented on the advisory council and organizational board of directors, with the procedures for making contributions or changes to the policies and procedures of the project being described and made known to all parties.

References
IBE-UNESCO (UNESCO International Bureau of Education). 2008a. Inclusive education: The Way of the Future, Forty-eight session of the international Conference on Education. Reference document: ED/BIE/CONFINTED 48/3. Geneva: IBE-UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.ibe.unesco.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Policy_Dialogue/48th_ICE/CONFINTED_48-3_English.pdf

UNESCO. 2009c. Policy guidelines on inclusion in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001778/177849e.pdf.

UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). 2015. Cultural Concerns in Addressing Barriers to Learning: Introductory packet.  Centre for Mental Health in Schools. Retrieved from: http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/cultural/culture.pdf

UNESCO. UNICEF. 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

Updated on 2020-09-04

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