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Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments The education of children with diverse backgrounds and abilities remains amajor challenge in the Asia-Pacific region. In April 2000, the World EducationForum held in Dakar, Senegal, set as its second goal: “ensuring that by2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances andthose belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free andcompulsory primary education of good quality.” Realizing this goal meansincreasing school attendance and completion rates; eliminating bias withinschools, national education systems, and curricula; and eliminating thesocial and cultural discrimination that limits the demand for schooling forchildren with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Inequality in education remains a matter of concern for all countries, yetdiscrimination continues to permeate schools and educational systems.
To bridge this gap, it is critical to sensitize teachers and educationadministrators about the importance of inclusive education. It is equallycritical to give them practical tools to analyze their situation and ensurethat all children are in school and learning to their fullest capacity, as wellas ensuring equity in the classroom, in learning materials, in teaching andlearning processes, in school policies, and in monitoring learning outcomes.
This Toolkit accepts this challenge and offers a holistic, practicalperspective on how schools and classrooms can become more inclusiveand learning-friendly. It builds on experience gained over many years andon the strategies and tools developed by many organizations and individualsworking on inclusive education and, more recently, in the area of establishingChild-Friendly Schools. This Toolkit is meant to be user-friendly and ameans of inspiration for teachers who find themselves working in evermore diverse classrooms. I hope you will find the Booklets in this Toolkituseful in gaining support for inclusive, learning-friendly environments and increating and managing them through the full participation of educators,students, parents, and community members.
Sheldon ShaefferDirector, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education The work of preparing this Toolkit was genuinely participatory and involvedmany education specialists, teachers, agency experts, and others frominside and outside of the Asian Region. Their names are listed below, andwe would like to thank all of them for their contributions. Every singleinput and comment was thoroughly considered and contributed to theenrichment of the Toolkit.
In addition, The Life Skills Development Foundation in Chiang Mai, Thailand; the UNICEF Office for the Philippines, Manila; and UNICEFIslamabad/Baluchistan co-organized workshops with teachers to get theirfeedback on the Toolkit as a whole, each of its Booklets, and their tools.
We found this interagency cooperation most fruitful and hope it willcontinue through this Toolkit’s dissemination process.
We have also used ideas and tools from several sources, the most Child-to-Child: A Resource Book. Part 2: The Child-to-Child ActivitySheets, by Baily D, Hawes H and Bonati B (1994) and published by TheChild-to-Child Trust, London.
FRESH: A Comprehensive School Health Approach to Achieve EFA.
UNESCO (2002) Paris.
Local Action: Creating Health Promoting Schools. World HealthOrganization (2000) Geneva. Also valuable resources were thedocuments in the WHO Information Series on School Health dealingwith violence prevention, healthy nutrition, and preventingdiscrimination due to HIV/AIDS.
Renovating the Teaching of Health in Multigrade Primary Schools: ATeacher’s Guide to Health in Natural and Social Sciences (Grades1,2,3) and Science (Grade 5), by Son V, Pridmore P, Nga B, My D andKick P (2002) and published by the British Council and the NationalInstitute of Educational Sciences, Hanoi, Vietnam.
Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments Understanding and Responding to Children’s Needs in InclusiveClassrooms. UNESCO (2001) Paris.
UNICEF’s Web sites on Life Skills as well as “Teachers Talking AboutLearning,” New York. Accessible through http://www.unicef.org We gratefully acknowledge the above sources and encourage users of this Toolkit to make use of them as well.
In addition to UNESCO's regular programme funds, Japanese Funds In Trust as well as Scandinavian funds supported the development of thisToolkit. We sincerely appreciate this assistance and the benefits it willhave for children inside and outside of the Asian Region.
Finally, a very special note of appreciation is directed to Ray Harris, Dr. Shirley Miske, and George Attig, the authors of the six Booklets. Onhis part, George Attig participated in the work right from the earliestconception of the idea to when the manuscript was handed over to theprinter. There were ups and downs in the process, but he stood by theproject. Many thanks for that! Vibeke Jensen, Programme Specialist atUNESCO Bangkok, coordinated the project and admirably dealt with themany challenges to its completion.
Listed below are the many contributors who provided their valuable time and experienced insights into completing this Toolkit. If we haveinadvertently forgotten someone, please accept our heartfelt apologiesand sincerest appreciation for your valuable assistance.
Countries Represented
Toolkit Development
Laetitia Antonowicz
Toolkit Reviewers
Teresa Abiera
Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments An inclusive, learning-friendly environment (ILFE) welcomes, nurtures,and educates all children regardless of their gender, physical, intellectual,social, emotional, linguistic, or other characteristics. They may be disabledor gifted children, street or working children, children of remote or nomadicpeoples, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities, childrenaffected by HIV/AIDS, or children from other disadvantaged ormarginalized areas or groups.
This Toolkit was written especially for YOU! You may be a teacher in a
pre-primary, primary, or secondary level classroom; a school administrator;
a student enrolled in a teacher-training institution or one of its instructors;
or just someone wanting to improve access to schools and learning for
children who usually do not go to school, such as those with diverse
backgrounds and abilities. This Toolkit will be especially valuable for
teachers who are working in schools that are beginning to change into more
child-centred and learning-friendly environments, possibly due to reforms
introduced by the Ministry of Education, a non-governmental organization
(NGO), or another project.
One important concept that we must all accept is that “All Children Are Different,” and all have an equal right to education, no matter whattheir background or ability. Many of our schools and educational systemsare moving towards “inclusive education” where children with diversebackgrounds and abilities are sought out and encouraged to attend ordinaryschools. On the one hand, attending school increases their opportunitiesto learn because they are able to interact with other children. Improvingtheir learning also promotes their participation in family and communitylife. On the other hand, the children with whom they interact also benefit.
They learn respect and to value each other’s abilities, no matter what theyare, as well as patience, tolerance, and understanding. They come to realizethat each person is “special” and to embrace diversity and cherish it.
Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments For us, as teachers, embracing such diversity in our students is not an easy task. Some of us may have large classes, and we may already feeloverworked. Including children with diverse backgrounds and abilities inour classes often means more work, but it need not be so. All we need todo is to manage the differences among our children by recognizing theirstrengths and weaknesses, planning lessons accordingly, using teachingstrategies and adapting our curriculum to fit each child’s abilities andbackground, and, most importantly, knowing how to mobilize our colleagues,parents, community members, and other professionals to help us providea good quality education for all children.
This Toolkit is designed to help you do all of these! It provides you with useful tools to make your schools and classrooms more welcoming and
lively places of learning for ALL children and teachers alike; places that
are not only child-friendly but also teacher-friendly, parent-friendly, and
community-friendly. This Toolkit contains a set of resource materials that
you can use to think about your own situation and to start taking action by
using some tools that have proven successful elsewhere, or by giving you
ideas about what similar activities you can undertake. All of the Booklets in
this Toolkit present ideas you can try. They also invite you to reflect on
these ideas, discuss them with others, and, together with all the learners
in your community, create a unique, dynamic, and inclusive learning-friendly
This Toolkit, however, is not a definitive textbook, and it will not have an answer for every problem that you might face. To help you as much aspossible, at the end of each Booklet we have also included lists of otherresources you might find valuable. Please remember, however, that creatingan inclusive, learning-friendly environment is a process, a journey. Thereare no set paths or ready-made “quick fix” solutions to follow. It is largelya process of self-discovery. It takes time to build this new kind ofenvironment. But since “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a singlestep,” this Toolkit will help you take the first step, and then the second,third, fourth, and so on. Since you and your students will always be learningnew things, it will never be finished. Yet, it will provide an ongoing challengeas well as enduring satisfaction to students, teachers, administrators,special educators, parents, and the community.
This Toolkit contains six Booklets, each of which contains tools and activitiesthat you can do by yourself (self-study) to start creating an inclusive,learning-friendly environment. Some of these activities ask you to reflecton (think about) what you and your school are doing now in terms of creatingan ILFE, while others actively guide you in improving your skills as ateacher in a diverse classroom. You might want to try these individualactivities first, so you can become familiar with what is an ILFE, how it canbe created in your classroom and school, and its benefits.
Because creating an ILFE requires teamwork, there also are tools and activities that you can do with your colleagues and supervisors, with yourstudents, as well as with your students’ families and communities. Theseactivities are the ones that will help you sustain important changes in yourclassroom and school, so they continue to be inclusive and learning-friendly.
This Toolkit’s six Booklets can be used in two ways. For those schools that are already involved in becoming inclusive and learning-friendly, suchas those working to become “Child-Friendly Schools,” you might want tochoose a Booklet or Booklets that will help you in some special way, such asworking with families or communities or managing a diverse classroom. Forthose schools that are just starting on the path to becoming inclusive andlearning-friendly, you might want to work through each Booklet, startingwith Booklet 1 and moving through Booklet 6. The Toolkit is designed tohelp you each step of the way because each Booklet builds on the onebefore it.
In addition, although the term “school” is used throughout this Toolkit, this term means any formal or non-formal learning environmentwhere pre-school, primary, or secondary-level education takes place. Inthis Toolkit, therefore, the term “school” is used broadly to cover bothtypes of educational settings. These environments can be a formal schoolor even an informal class held under shady trees. Consequently, you can usethis Toolkit if you’re a professional teacher or simply someone who helpschildren with diverse backgrounds and abilities to learn in informal settings(such as classes for street children).
Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments WHAT WILL YOU LEARN?
Through this Toolkit, you will learn what an “inclusive, learning-friendlyenvironment” is and how your school and classroom can create such anenvironment (Booklet 1).
You will also learn how very important families and communities are to the whole process of creating and maintaining an inclusive, learning-friendlyenvironment, as well as how to involve parents and community members inthe school, and how to involve children in the community (Booklet 2).
You will learn what barriers exclude rather than include ALL children in school, how to identify those children who are not in school, and how todeal with barriers to their inclusion in school (Booklet 3).
You will learn how to create an inclusive classroom and why becoming inclusive and learning-friendly is so important to children’s achievement,how to deal with the wide range of different children attending your class,and how to make learning meaningful for all (Booklet 4).
You will learn how to manage an inclusive classroom including planning for teaching and learning, maximizing available resources, managing groupwork and cooperative learning, as well as how to assess children’s learning(Booklet 5).
Finally, you will learn ways to make your school healthy and protective for ALL children, and especially those with diverse backgrounds andabilities who are more prone to becoming ill, malnourished, or victimized(Booklet 6).
Teachers and practitioners from around the world helped to develop thisToolkit. They include those who were directly involved in four Regionalworkshops and shared their tools and ideas for getting all children inschool and learning. It includes those persons who have shared theirknowledge and tools through other venues such as printed publications andthe Internet. It includes those persons who served as “critical readers” in reviewing early drafts of this Toolkit. And most importantly, it includesthose schools and teachers from many countries who reviewed this Toolkitand provided valuable advice and additional tools for its improvement.
Hence, you will be learning from many others. The tools in this Toolkit arebeing used in many schools in a wide range of countries, especially thoselocated in the Asia and Pacific Region. One of the most important questionsyou can ask yourself in using the tools is: “How can I adapt this specifictool for use in my classroom or school?” A NOTE ON TERMS
One challenge in developing this Toolkit was what terms should be used.
Oftentimes, different terms are used to describe the same thing. Moreover,sometimes a term may imply an idea or feeling that is not intended. Forexample, we have avoided using any that would imply discrimination. Wehave also tried to keep the terms simple and the presentation itself asfriendly and informal as possible.
In keeping with this Toolkit’s theme, we have tried to use terms that are as inclusive as possible. Some of the most important terms that appearin this Toolkit include the following.
The term “children with diverse backgrounds and abilities” is perhapsthe most inclusive term in this Toolkit. It refers to those childrenwho usually fall outside of (are excluded from) the mainstreameducational system due to gender, physical, intellectual, social,emotional, linguistic, cultural, religious, or other characteristics.
The term “learning environment” means any formal or non-formalsetting where children gain knowledge and the skills to use thatknowledge in their daily lives. Learning environments may take theform of schools and colleges or even cultural centres, hobby centres,or social clubs.
“Inclusive education” or “inclusive learning” refers to the inclusion
and teaching of ALL children in formal or non-formal learning
environments without regard to gender, physical, intellectual, social,
emotional, linguistic, cultural, religious, or other characteristics.
Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments “Learning-friendly” means placing the child firmly at the centre ofthe learning process. It also means recognizing that his or her totallearning environment includes other actors (such as teachers,administrators, parents, and community leaders) who guide a child’slearning and are learners themselves. A learning-friendly environmentis one in which children benefit not only from learning by themselves,but also from the learning of others whose needs are also taken intoconsideration. For instance, a learning-friendly environment giveschildren a chance to participate in their learning. It also is anenvironment in which teachers are helped and empowered to learn,in which they use and adapt new teaching methods, and in whichparents and community members are actively encouraged toparticipate in helping their children to learn and their schools tofunction.
“Classroom” refers to the actual place in which children cometogether to learn with the help of a teacher. It may include, forexample, formal classrooms in public schools, informal learningclasses for child workers held under trees, classes at youth centresfor children living on the street, or even home-based learningsessions for those children who cannot attend any other learningenvironment, either temporarily or permanently.
A “teacher” is any individual who systematically guides a child’slearning within a specific formal or non-formal learning environment.
The terms “student,” “learner,” or “pupil” refer to anyone who isparticipating in formal or non-formal learning. They are usedinterchangeably in this Toolkit.
“Children with disabilities” includes those children with physical,sensory, or intellectual disabilities and who are oftentimes excludedfrom learning in schools. They are children who were born with aphysical or psychological disability, or they have acquired animpairment because of illness, accidents, or other causes. Impairmentsmay mean that children will experience difficulty seeing, hearing, ormoving, and they may learn more slowly and in different ways fromother children. In many countries, not all children who are identifiedas disabled are also identified as having special educational needs, and vice versa. These two groups, therefore, are not identical.
Children with disabilities are capable of learning, and they have thesame right to attend school as any other child. However, they areoften excluded from school altogether in many countries of theAsia-Pacific region.
Students with “special learning needs” or “special educational needs”
means children who require greater attention to help them with
their learning. In most countries, this attention is delivered in
either special or ordinary schools or classrooms. Many countries
label different groups of students as having special educational or
learning needs, which sets them apart from regular students. When
these terms appear in the Toolkit, therefore, it acknowledges the
existence of this labelling practice. However, it does NOT assume
that there is any actual educational difference between students
with special learning or educational needs and regular students.
“Sex” refers to the biological differences between men and women.
“Gender” refers to the social roles that are believed to belong tomen and women within a particular social grouping; for example,“men as breadwinners” or “women as child caregivers.” Gender rolesare created by a society and are learned from one generation to thenext as part of a society’s culture. Because it is a socially learnedperception (for instance, learned in the family or in school), anythingassociated with gender can be changed or reversed to achieveequality and equity for both men and women. In other words, we canchange the gender roles of “women as child caregivers” to “womenas breadwinners” and “men as breadwinners” to “men as childcaregivers,” or even “men and women as breadwinners and childcaregivers.” “Family” means the main social unit within which a child is raised,and “community” refers to the wider social group to which the childand family belong.
Toolkit for Creating Inclusive, Learning-Friendly Environments A NOTE FOR TRANSLATORS AND ADAPTERS
This Toolkit was developed originally in the English language. But for it tobe used widely, it will need to be translated into different languages andadapted to fit different contexts. For those of you who will be given thetask of adapting and translating this Toolkit, please remember the followingimportant points.
Style, Tone, and Vocabulary
This Toolkit is meant to be inviting and user-friendly. For this reason, it iswritten in a very informal, conversational style, as if you were talking to ateacher rather than simply writing for her or him. You are encouraged toalso use this style in your translation, instead of using a formal—oftenoverly complicated—one.
This Toolkit is written in a positive and encouraging tone. We want to encourage teachers and others to want to learn more, rather than to becondescending and pointing out what they should be doing or are doingwrong. Once again, you are encouraged to use this type of tone in yourtranslation.
Although this Toolkit was written in English, we “pre-tested” it at three Regional Workshops (in Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand) to see
if it was understandable to persons whose native language is not English. In
order to make it understandable, this Toolkit uses a very simple
vocabulary. We intentionally tried not to use complex terms and “jargon”
(that is, words or expressions that some professionals may understand, but
which are difficult for others to understand). However, some special terms
can be difficult to translate. For example, the term “gender” may not exist
in your language, but it is important to translate it accurately. If you find
terms that you are not sure how to translate, check with professionals or
agencies who may already be using the term and may have already translated
it. For instance, “gender” is a term that is widely used in the areas of
education, population, reproductive health, and children’s rights. If
educators in your country have not translated the term (or it is translated
inaccurately), check with other national and international organizations
that work in these areas to see how they have translated it.
Context and Content
We have tried to use case studies and other experiences from manycountries within and outside of the Asian Region. However, this may not beacceptable for your national context, particularly if, for instance, teachersprefer to see examples from their own country because they feel thatthey are more relevant. In such cases, you may need to search out otherexamples and use these instead of the ones in this Toolkit. However, pleasemake sure that they agree with what is being explained in the text.
Overall, this Toolkit’s content must be meaningful in terms of the context of your communities. For instance, there may be a need to includeother groups of children who are out of school in Booklet 3, or to provideconcrete local examples of “gender” issues and relations to help readers tounderstand the concept. Don’t be afraid to adapt the Toolkit’s content insuch ways to fit your community context.
In addition, this Toolkit’s content must be relevant to the realities of school life in your country. For instance, in countries where multi-gradeteaching is common, you may need to adapt certain activities orrecommendations to this setting.
In adapting this Toolkit’s activities, techniques, and case studies to fit your local community and school conditions, work with teachers who arealready involved in developing child-friendly schools or inclusive classrooms.
They can help you to identify what other (or more appropriate) activities,techniques, or case studies can be added to each of the Toolkit’s Bookletsand Tools. Don’t be afraid to remove one specific activity or case study inthe original Toolkit if you have a better one from your own community orschool setting.
Finally, when this Toolkit is to be “repackaged,” it needs to be durable and user-friendly (for instance, able to be photocopied easily, with individualbooklets rather than one large, heavy volume). You should consult localteachers to see what they prefer the final Toolkit to look like.

Source: http://www.issa.nl/members/member_docs/ESJ_files/at_docs/UN/00_intro.pdf

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