1.1 Marginalisation vs. Inclusion: Meaning & Definitions


There have, traditionally, been three broad approaches to the education of children with disabilities: segregation in which children are classified according to their impairment and allocated a school designed to respond to that particular impairment; integration, where children with disabilities are placed in the mainstream system, often in special classes, as long as they can accommodate its demands and fit in with its environment; and inclusion where there is recognition of a need to transform the cultures, policies and practices in school to accommodate the differing needs of individual students, and an obligation to remove the barriers that impede that possibility.

To describe marginalization is not to explain it. Noting that poverty exists does not lead directly to a strategy for eliminating it. Nor does refining the definition and measures of marginalization lead to a reliable prescription for overcoming it. The multi-dimensionality of marginalization – that is, its complexity – plagues policy-makers. There is little agreement in the academic literature or in policy networks about how to understand the “real problem.” A number of competing diagnoses are available to account for unequal, and even polarized, distributions of income, capacity and power, all of which prevent real inclusion. Take, for example, homelessness. Homelessness and inadequate housing have emerged as central social issues. Lack of access to affordable, adequate housing and safe neighbourhoods means that a range of people – from single men to families with children – are living on the margins of society and calling the streets of our cities home. Many are also on the margins of the labour force, working but not earning enough to support themselves and their families. There is a risk of reproducing marginality from one generation to the next, as schooling is mortgaged due to the inability to attend, to concentrate, or to thrive because of inadequate housing, food or income in general. Governments and the voluntary sector struggle to address the crisis, developing initiatives to deal with homelessness, to provide school lunches and breakfasts, and to enlarge food banks, as well as to redistribute income to seniors and families with young children and to promote training. Nonetheless, the underlying problems remain.

Marginalisation describes the position of individuals, groups or populations outside of ‘mainstream society’, living at the margins of those in the centre of power, of cultural dominance and economical and social welfare. It is defined as, “a process by which a group or individual is denied access to important positions and symbols of economic, religious, or political power within any society…a marginal group may actually constitute a numerical majority…and should perhaps be distinguished from a minority group, which may be small in numbers, but has access to political or economic power”.

In large part, the difficulty of solving these problems, and the tenacity of the conditions that are indicators of marginalization, can be attributed to rapid changes associated with large trends such as globalization, new information technologies, restructured labour markets, and new ideologies.


It has been argued that inclusive educationis not only about addressing issues of input, such as access, and those related to processes such as teacher training, but that it involves a shift in underlying values and beliefs held across the system. It requires that all children, including children with disabilities, not only have access to schooling within their own community, but that they are provided with appropriate learning opportunities to achieve their full potential. Its approach is underpinned by an understanding that all children should have equivalent and systematic learning opportunities in a wide range of school and additional educational settings, despite the differences that might exist.

 Inclusive education provides a fundamentally different pedagogical approach to one rooted in deviance or difference. In other words, it stresses:

·        the open learning potential of each student rather than a hierarchy of cognitive skills;

·        reform of the curriculum and a cross cutting pedagogy rather than a need to focus on student deficiencies;

·        active participation of students in the learning process rather than an emphasis on specialized discipline knowledge as key to teachers expertise;

·        a common curriculum for all, based upon differentiated and/or individualized instruction, rather than an alternative curriculum being developed for low achievers;

·        teachers who include rather than exclude.

UNESCO’s actions in promoting inclusive approaches in education will aim at: 

·        Forging a holistic approach to education which ensures that the concerns of marginalized  and excluded groups are incorporated in all education activities, and cooperating to reduce wasteful repetition and fragmentation; 

·        Developing capacities for policymaking and system management in support of diverse strategies towards inclusive education; and 

·        Bringing forward the concerns of groups who are currently marginalized and excluded.

1.2 Changing Practices in Education of Children with Disabilities: Segregation, Integration & Inclusion

Inclusive education for children with SEN is addressed in several significant international declarations, including the World Declaration on Education for All (UNESCO, 1990), the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action (1994), and the Dakar Framework for Action (UNESCO, 2000). With the changable declarations, Philpott (2007) describes a significant change in society‘s views of special education, from segregation, to integration, to inclusion. It means that there are three approaches for educating students with special educational needs. Philpott (2007) asserts that there has been a global shift in methods used to address diverse learning needs, describing  it  as  a  paradigm  shift  away  from  a  deficit/medical  model  toward  a philosophy of inclusion. In fact, the process of segregation to inclusion is the model conversion.  UNICEF (2007:5) pointed out  that the  human  rights  approach  to disability has led to a shift in focus from a child‘s limitations arising from impairments, to the barriers within society that prevent the child from having access to basic social services, developing to the fullest potential and from enjoying her or his rights. UNESCO also emphasized that the greatest barriers to inclusion are caused by society, not by particular medical impairments (Department for International Development, 2010).

In terms of the difference between Inclusion, Integration, Segregation and Exclusion, it could be explained in one picture



·        Can cater for children with profound and complex a regular class

·        Special schools have specialized equipment and resources for looking after children with disabilities.

·        Teachers in special schools are trained


·        The cost of providing education for children with disabilities is estimated to be 7 to 9 times higher when placed in special schools as opposed to providing for their needs in mainstream education

·        Distance to school resulting in higher transportation costs

·        Child deprived of socialization opportunities and prone to continued exclusion

·        Reinforces discrimination against those with disabilities

·        May unnecessarily segregate children with mild disabilities, makes the disability worse



·        Breaks down barriers and negative attitudes; facilitates social integration and cohesion in communities. The involvement of parents and the local community further strengthens this process.

·        The child is able to socialize with other children as part of a school community

·        Reduced costs for transportation and institutional provision

·        Reduced administrative costs associated   with   having   special and  regular education

·        Some research states that children in integrated or inclusive settings have higher achievement levels than those in segregated settings.


·        Inability to accommodate the learning needs of all

·        Pressure on limited resources

·        Requires assistance by parents, volunteers or older children





Schools respond to individual differences and therefore benefit all children

Schools change attitudes towards diversity by educating all children together

Less costly alternative to special segregated schools

No additional costs to parents

Reduction of social welfare costs and future dependence

Higher achievement for children than in segregated settings

60% children with special educational needs can be educated with no adaptions and 80-90% can be

educated in regular schools with minor adaptations (e.g. teaching strategy training, child-to-child support  and environmental adaption)

Disabled child is less stigmatized, more socially included

Inclusive education is cost-effective

Costs can be kept to a minimum by drawing upon local resources, people and facilities

Children with disabilities have access to a wider curriculum than that which is available in special schools.


Teachers‘ skills, schools resources, high pupil-to-teacher ratios

Costs of adapting curricula to allow


Cost of supplying teaching aids and material to improve participation and communication of children with disabilities

Cost of adapting school infrastructure

Requires assistance by parents, volunteers or older children

Investment in specially trained mobile resource teachers

1.3 Diversity in Classrooms: Learning Styles, Linguistic & Socio-Cultural Multiplicity

The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.  It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.

"Diversity" means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating difference.

Learning Styles:

Psychologists and educators have developed many theories of learning and identified an array of learning styles. Some learning style theories concentrate on the sensory pathways that students use to learn. Other theories focus on the physical environment in which learning takes place. Still others emphasize social interaction as it relates to learning.

While this section highlights some of the characteristics of learning styles, the emphasis is on understanding that individual differences and preferences play an important role in learning. Adding diversity to your teaching will accommodate the learning styles of your students and make your teaching more exciting and enjoyable.

Print learners

Print learners prefer to see the data in print preferably printed in words. When introducing course concepts or the steps of a process, print learners like to read about the information and then study an illustration or other visual aid. Visual learners also benefit from seeing assignments in print.

When presenting key terms and concepts, refer to the textbook and use the textbook examples. Print learners can later go back and study the material.

Consider using handouts and study sheets. Students can also make their own study sheets. Word games can help print learners grasp key terms and concepts.

Visual learners

Visual learners need to ‘see’ the concept. One way for learners to see the idea is through visualization. Discuss basic concepts using an overhead transparency or the board. In addition, ask students to make a mental picture before you write a descriptive phrase or idea on the transparency or board.

Visual aids are particularly important to visual learners. Today’s textbooks are filled with images. For some students, these images are the key to learning; for others, they offer reinforcement. In addition to the visual images in the textbook, overhead transparencies, videotapes, slides, and presentation graphics can all be used to help students visualize concepts and skills. Web sites with rich multimedia components can be used effectively to demonstrate processes or explore concepts.

Demonstrations allow visual learners to see what you are doing as you do it. Manipulatives provide visual cues for all learners, but are particularly helpful to visual learners. Visual learners also benefit from seeing assignments in print.

Videotape a demonstration and offer the tape as a study aid.

Make a point of focusing on charts, diagrams, graphs, illustrations, maps, photographs, and tables while explaining a concept.

Write assignments on the board and remind students to write them in their planners.

Create graphic organizers the help understand the key content of the lesson.


Auditory learners

Auditory learners learn best by hearing. Auditory learners who read a textbook lesson benefit from spoken reinforcement of key ideas. Consider asking other teachers, guest speakers, and family members to address your class. Ask students to summarize their reading as part of discussion activities. Read directions for assignments aloud and be sure to tell auditory learners the steps involved in a new process or procedure.

Develop a vocabulary activity patterned after a spelling bee. This kind of activity offers the added benefits of social interaction, competition, and movement.

Identify steps through lecture or a taped tutorial.

Have students recite steps to each other in pairs or in small groups. In a group of three, for example, each student should get the opportunity to explain the procedure to the other two students. Through this process, each student in the group will explain the procedure once and hear the procedure twice.

Use student oral presentations to help summarize or reinforce key, concept understanding.

Tactile learners

Tactile learners learn best by touching or handling objects. By fourth grade, tactile learners appreciate learning activities that use fine motor skills including writing. Manipulatives are particularly important to tactile learners. They also benefit from participating in hands-on activities, role playing, and creating displays. Tactile learners remember what they did and how they did it; they do not necessarily remember what they saw others do or what they heard.

After demonstrating a procedure to the class, have a student repeat the demonstration. Allow other students to coach the demonstrator.

When activities include taking on roles, repeat the activity until each student has a chance to play each role.

Kinesthetic learners

Kinesthetic learners achieve best by taking an active part in classroom instruction. Motion is an important part of kinesthetic learning including motion that is not specific to the learning process. Simply allowing students to move about the classroom can be particularly helpful to kinesthetic learners. For example, walking to the board to work a problem involves the motions required to walk and write.

Design activities that require students to move from station to station within the room.

During some activities, allow students to move about the room to use certain resources for example, a dictionary, pencil sharpener, or sink.

Allow students to use technology tools that are available in the classroom to complete assignments.

Linguistic Diversity

The multilingual context of the school and classroom is a hot topic; it occupies the mind of schools, teachers and society as a whole. A lot of schools are struggling with their multilingual character. Specialists emphasise the importance of multilingualism: it’s an added value for all who aim to work and function in Belgium and Europe. Children are encouraged to learn French, English, German, Spanish and Italian and, if possible, to use these new languages at home, with friends and on holidays. On the other hand we see that the multilingualism of immigrant minority children, adolescents and their parents is often considered to be an obstacle to success at school.

To deal with linguistic diversity within an educational environment one can use three strategies: a constructive language policy, linguistic sensitisation and functional multilingual learning.

The language problem or the problem of the medium of instruction in the educational institutions of India has got a long and deep rooted history which dates back to British rule. India is a country where people of different communities reside with different specific languages of their own. At present India is divided into twenty-five states and seven union territories. Each union territory and each state has its own state and regional language, like Assam has Assamese, Bengal has Bengali, Orissa has Oriya and so on. Hence it became a critical problem to introduce a uniform policy regarding tlie teaching of language and medium of instructions throughout the country.

In the educational institutions of the state, it is only the language that decides the standard and norms of that society and its culture. Language is like a reflected glass of a nation.

There are generally five different groups of languages, such as —

1.     Mother-tongue (M.T.)

2.     The Regional language (R.L.)

3.     The National language — Lingua-franca, or (in connection with India) the official language also named as Federal language (F.L.)

4.     The Classical language (C.L.)

5.     The Foreign language (F.L.) and The International language (I.L.)

Among all the languages mother tongue has received greatest importance because it directs highest influence upon the nature and nurture of the individual. The regional language is next in importance as it is spoken by the people in the whole region. The national language has its utility in social, commercial, administrative and political fields. Besides the National language every society or the country has owned the cultural language which could tell us the cultural heritage of the past and, therefore, it is equally important to maintain cultural unity and cultural progress of the country. The International foreign languages are also equally useful for the development of the country for diplomatic, political, commercial, educational and scientific utility.

Socio-Cultural Multiplicity

The Indian cultural tradition is unique. The notions of dharma (normative order), karma (personal moral commitment] and jati (caste) as the hierarchical principles of social stratification are basic to Indian culture. A certain level of configuration of these elements and consensus have brought about persistence and equilibrium in Indian society, and hence no major breakdown has taken place in its culture. It is said that the change is in the cultural system and not of the system. In other words, basic cultural and social values and norms still continue with some modifications.

Diversity is reflected in thousands of caste groups, each having its own rituals, rites, rules and customs. It can be seen in terms of linguistic, religious and other ethnic variations. The styles of life differ from region to region and vary even between different castes and religious groups within the same village. Some rulers made conscious efforts to ensure unity in diversity.

By 'social diversity', we mean co-existence of different social groups within a given geo-political setting or in simpler terms, differentiation of society into groups. Other terms such as, 'plurality', 'multiculturalism', 'social differentiation' etc. are also interchangeably used to explain this feature. The diversity may be both functional and dysfunctional for a society depending on its composition. The question that may arise at this stage is 'how much pluralist a society can become without losing its organic unity?' Despite divisions of groups, an underlying unity runs through the whole Indian social system. In order to understand the nature of social diversity in India, it is important to understand the nature of group identities that form the diversity.

Types of Social Diversity on the basis of:

Language: Language is one of the main markers of group solidarity in any society.

Religion: Religion is an important binding force of social integration among individuals and groups.

Caste: Caste is a system of social relations. It is an important feature of Indian society based on endogamy, hierarchy, occupational association, purity and pollution, and inscriptive status.

Tribe: Tribal people are other important socio-cultural groups in India

Gender: Gender is a form of socio-biological difference between man and woman.

India is a land of diversities. Its diversity is expressed in terms of language, religion, caste, tribes and gender. The diversity is a result of both internal differentiation and external influence. The processes of differentiation and unification have been going on simultaneously. The groups that have been differentiated on one social marker may be seen united on others. For instance, the groups which are divided on religious lines such as the Hindu, the Muslims etc. are united in terms of languages, gender etc. Thus 'unity' amidst diversity' prevails in the Indian society. However the balance between diversity and unity is delicate and fraught with several problems. One needs to analyze the power relations between diverse groups.

1.4 Principles of Inclusive Education: Access, Equity, Relevance, Participation & Empowerment

Access: Access/accessibility refers to giving equitable access to everyone regardless of human ability and experience. It refers to how organizations encompass and celebrate the characteristics and talents that each individual brings to the organization. It is about representation for all.

By consciously providing access to all opportunities, we will be able to harness the incredible pool of talent that its members bring to the organization. This will eliminate real and perceived barriers and cultivate, develop, and advance the talent pipeline.

Equity: Equity refers to an approach that ensures that everyone has access to the same opportunities. It recognizes that advantages and barriers exist and that, as a result, everyone does not start from the same place. It is a process that begins by acknowledging that unequal starting place and works to correct and address the imbalance. Equity ensures that all people have the opportunity to grow, contribute, and develop, regardless of their identity. Basically, it is the fair and just treatment of all members of a community. It requires commitment and deliberate attention to strategic priorities, resources, respect, and civility, with ongoing action and assessment of progress toward achieving specified goals.

Relevance: All over the world there is a new trend toward development of inclusive education because of its relevance for the total educational development of children with special needs. Inclusive education is practice teaching children in regular classrooms with non handicapped children to the fullest extent possible; such children may have orthopedic, intellectual, emotional, visual difficulties or handicaps associated with hearing. Inclusive education has been of increasing interest in the past decades. Research showing that many handicapped students learns better in regular than in special classes; racial imbalance existed in special education classes.

Participation: The principle of participation and inclusion aims to engage persons with disabilities in the wider society and in making decisions that will affect them, encouraging them to be active in their own lives and within the community. Inclusion is a two-way process: persons who have no disabilities should be open to the participation of persons with disabilities. 

Accessibility: The principle of accessibility aims to dismantle the barriers that hinder the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities. The issue concerns not just physical access to places, but also access to information, technologies, such as the Internet, communication, and economic and social life. The provision of ramps, sufficiently large and unblocked corridors and doors, the placement of door handles, the availability of information in Braille and easy-to-read formats, the use of sign interpretation/interpreters, and the availability of assistance and support can ensure that a person with a disability has access to a workplace, a place of entertainment, a voting booth, transport, a court of law, etc. Without access to information or the ability to move freely, other rights of persons with disabilities are also restricted.

Empowerment: People are empowered when they are able to claim their rights and to shape the decisions, policies, rules and conditions that affect their lives. An approach to development that is grounded in human rights treats everyone as agents of their own development. Empowerment requires opening safe spaces that enable all people, including those who have been traditionally marginalized, to have a place at the table, and participate in the shaping of the decisions, policies, rules and conditions that affect their lives.

1.5 Barriers to Inclusive Education: Attitudinal, Physical & Instructional

Inclusion is the process whereby every person (irrespective of age, disability, gender, religion, sexual preference or nationality) who wishes to, can access and participate fully in all aspects of an activity or service in the same way as any other member of the community.

Inclusion addresses an individual’s:

dignity (basic human rights)

opportunities (equal employment and attitudes)

accommodation (accessibility, assistive devices). Inclusion is about society changing to accommodate difference, and to combat discrimination.

Barriers to inclusion

There are three sets of barriers that currently limit the opportunity for people with disabilities to participate in society on equal terms with non-disabled people.

Attitudinal Barrier

Prejudice, discrimination and stigma cause the biggest problems for people with disabilities, who are assumed to be one or more of the following:


of low intelligence

in need of a ‘cure’

needing ‘special’ services or support


inspirational or marvellous or exceptional.

People who make these judgements treat the disabled person as superfluous or superhuman. They either fail to respond to the individual – with all their inherent personality, strengths and weaknesses – or they assume they have ‘superhuman’ abilities to cope with their impairment.

People who do not have disabilities can respond with fear, pity, repulsion, or a sense of superiority. These assumptions and emotions are reinforced by the media. Negative language reflects and can reinforce prejudices. People with disabilities wish to change the language used by non-disabled people about them – especially language that is offensive and inaccurate.

Physical Barrier

Disabled people encounter barriers in terms of access to the built environment or information, for example in terms of public transport, hospitals and clinics, schools and housing, shops and marketplaces, offices and factories, places of worship, media and communications and public information systems.

Most people think of the physical barriers in this category – e.g. a health clinic is inaccessible for wheelchair users if it has steps and narrow doorways. It is relatively easy to identify these – in consultation with disabled people – once aware.

Lack of accessible communications can also be disabling for those with sensory impairments – e.g. for Deaf people, if there’s no sign language; for those with visual impairments if medication isn’t appropriately labelled. Poor communication can have devastating results where important school based education campaigns happen (e.g. HIV and AIDS).

Students with hearing, visual or intellectual impairments are unlikely to access vital information unless their access needs have been met. And since 98 per cent of disabled children in developing countries don’t attend school, they’ll miss out on important education and information.

Instructional Barriers

A rigid curriculum that does not allow for experimentation or the use of different teaching methods can be an enormous barrier to inclusion. Study plans that don’t recognize different styles of learning hinder the school experience for all students, even those not traditionally recognized as having physical or mental challenges.

Teachers who are not trained or who are unwilling or unenthusiastic about working with differently-abled students are a drawback to successful inclusion. Training often falls short of real effectiveness, and instructors already straining under large workloads may resent the added duties of coming up with different approaches for the same lessons.

Many students are expected to learn while being taught in a language that is new and in some cases unfamiliar to them. This is obviously a significant barrier to successful learning. Too often, these students face discrimination and low expectations.

Universalization of education is a dream which can be achieved only if there is a harmonious effort from the government as well as the stakeholders of the system of inclusive education. Apart from Government, we also need to understand and analyze this issue from the view points of the schools, parents as well as the children themselves. The idea of inclusive education is a child of the capability approach which strives to make the disadvantaged section of the society capable instead of sympathizing with them throughout their lives. They have their right to live and have access to education. The education which has been referred should be at par with the education which is received by the children without disabilities. In no way the children with disabilities should be in a less competitive or disadvantageous position due to lack of access to mainstream schools.