Inclusiveness in Education

I attended an NZEI seminar yesterday at NZEI in Wellington for members of the Women‘s and Rainbow Networks.

Building Human Rights Communities in Education

The presenter of the above session was Jill Chrisp from the Human Rights Commission. The session was inspiring and thought provoking. She talked about being HR advocates vs HR violators and specifically looked at the education sector. We brainstormed areas within our own schools where HR were advocated/violated. By far the largest area was that of special needs children in our schools.

Some quotes:

  • Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realising other human rights.
  • Right to Education Framework
    • Availability
    • Accessibility
    • Acceptability
    • Adaptability
  • Rights, Respect and Responsibility (RRR) Initiative
    Cape Breton, Canada & Hampshire, United Kingdom

  • a cross-border primary human rights education initiative in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland
  • The right to education is an essential feature of democracy. The development of the citizen is the fundamental objective of the education system.
  • Education should not be solely construed as the preparation of an individual for the workforce.

We then split up into sector groups to discuss what the Right to Education framework meant for us in our different sectors.

Sometimes, when you work in a school that actively works to make sure the rights of all individuals are met, it’s important to see the bigger picture and realise that not all teachers work in the same conditions.

Inclusive Education – Are we there yet?

This was broken into two parts – the first led by Trish Grant, IHC Advocate and the second by Missy Morton. This looked at inclusion of special needs children into our classrooms and the problems faced by the children, their families and their teachers.

Points from this session:

Afterword

The whole day was valuable for me – I was able to network with other Rainbow network people as well as others interested in the whole inclusiveness issue. I also saw IHC in a new light – I guess I’m guilty of seeing only their public face not the advocacy one that is almost more important than the public one. It was also good to be provoked regarding Human Rights issues – it is a right that all children receive a quality education – what implications does that then have for me in my classroom?

Another thing that my sector group (Rainbow) raised was the whole diversity issue – we talk about our classrooms containing a diverse range of children from many different nationalities and cultures but look at the majority of our teachers – mainly white, middle class women!!

  • We discussed how it is easier to be a woman and ‘out’ than it is to be a man and ‘out’;
  • we discussed how hard it is for a man to be involved in Early Childhood Education because of the implications that they are there for ulterior motives;
  • we also discussed how hard it is for some GLBT teachers to attend national/regional meetings if they are during the school week because their circumstances preclude them being out in their workplace
    • even though there is all the advocacy for GLBT teachers, the fact remains that many schools are conservative and that makes it difficult for those teachers to be out
  • and we discussed the need to network with other GLBT teachers – both in our own regions and nationally

I hope this will be a start of a group of us networking – the Rainbow people and those teachers interesting in nutting out how exactly we work for full inclusive education in NZ.