Author of the given Essay is the student of Tbilisi State University Mariam Bikashvili. The Essay was prepared specifically for the contest on “Sustainable Development Goals and Georgia” organized by IDFI in cooperation with UNDP Georgia and with the financial support from the Government of Sweden.
Throughout the centuries, the concept of receiving and giving education has changed many times. Initially, education was the domain of families and churches. The very first educational institution was formed in Ancient Egypt. Studying in school was a privilege reserved for the elite; therefore, only highest social classes received formal education. The right to education becomes the concern for the society only after the Enlightenment.
Famous representatives of the Enlightenment: Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Diderot, etc. have discussed the social nature of education. They believed that education was foundational basis for social and spiritual emancipation of a human. For this reason, they started to spread knowledge via press and encyclopedias.
Impulses from French Enlighteners became a big wave in the XIX century Georgia and the Society for Spreading Literacy among Georgians was formed by the group of young thinkers called Tergdaleulebi. This Society tried to oppose the policy of Russification, opened Georgian schools, printed study books, collected old manuscripts and folklore.
The contemporary world is faced with big challenges and problems: nowadays, in the 21st century, almost one billion humans cannot read, this number is increasing and currently encompasses one sixth of the world’s population.
Thomas Hobbes wrote in Leviathan: “Nature hath made men so equal, in the faculties of body, and mind; as that though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body, or of quicker mind then another; yet when all is reckoned together, the difference between man, and man, is not so considerable, as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any benefit, to which another may not pretend, as well as he”.
This fundamental approach to equality is a starting point to solve problems in education. Education belongs to everyone equally, regardless of one’s psychosocial and inclusive needs.
An individual without basic education cannot be competitive in modern society, and cannot realize their other rights. They become a second rate citizen, because right to education is key to other political, cultural and social rights. To avoid this problem, more attention should be devoted to inclusive education. The society is divided on this issue. Some think persons with disabilities should study separately, in special schools; however, this idea contradicts fundamental goals of inclusive education – integration of persons with disabilities in the existing society.
Inclusive education does not mean segregation. It means that individuals with special needs be perceived as an integral part of society.
Implementation of inclusive education in Georgian schools not only provides quality education and integration for person with disabilities, but it will also facilitate social progress, when typical students and their parents start to perceive person with disability as normal. This will create an environment where persons with disability are not victims of even positive discrimination, and different abilities and outlooks are balanced and normalized.
The right to education is guaranteed by many international and state legal acts; however, regarding inclusive education, the 1994 Declaration of Salamanca states that every child has right to study in an inclusive classroom, and participate in a children oriented education process, to satisfy individual needs. One of the delegates of the conference, Mr. Lindquist, who has no eye vison, stated that:
“Education systems should not separate children into categories, but rather should be reformed, in order to ensure the right to education for every child.”
On the one hand, providing inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities is a positive obligation of the state, on the other hand, it is a social responsibility of the society to help persons with disabilities in normal development, integration, elimination of any form of discrimination and segregation, and their active functioning in the state and society. This is the essence of the UN Sustainable Development Goal #4. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to give more information to the society and ensure more engagement of the public, for if we know the problem, the process of finding solutions to it becomes permanent, until the problem is overcome.
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