Summary (Kas Mazurek & Margaret Winzer: Intersections of Education for All and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Explaining the conflicting international cadences of inclusive schooling): Education for All (EFA) was encapsulated in a series of UN summits and conventions throughout the 1990s. In 2000, governments around the world adopted the Dakar Framework that addressed education for both development and the eradication of poverty. In 2006, changes in the global landscape for those with disabilities emerged with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Although the cadences differ, both the CRPD and EFA clearly identify inclusive education as one of the key strategies to address issues of marginalization and exclusion. Yet only 2 to 3 percent of those with disabilities go to school and, in the vast majority of education systems around the world, inclusive schooling remains extremely limited, if not non-existent.
This paper centers on the CRPD embedded within the universal policy frameworks of Education for All. It explicitly draws attention to contradictions between the universal EFA and the disability-centric CRPD by assessing aspects such as hard-to-reach children, the invisibility of disabled persons on UNESCO’s statistical maps and in development agendas, and increasing segregation. We conclude that although progress of the CRPD is intimately connected to broad global education governance, the treaty is limited in maintaining an effective, proactive position within policy systems where it has constricted formal authority and financing.
Keywords: Education for All, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, international educational governance, inclusive schooling, marginalization, disability.
Резюме (Каз Мазурек & Маргрет Винзер: Точки пересечения Закона об общем образовании и Конвенция о правах людей с ограниченными возможностями: разъяснение противоречивых международных позиций в отношении инклюзивной школы): Закон об общем образовании упоминался на конференциях на высшем уровне и съездах, проводимых ООН в 1990-е годы. В 2000 году правительства стран по всему миру приняли Дакарские “Рамки мировых действий в области просвещения”, направленные как на развитие образования, так и на ликвидацию бедности. В 2006 году изменения в мировом ландшафте оказали влияние на положение людей с ограниченными возможностями – это стало возможным после принятия Конвенции о правах людей с ограниченными возможностями. Несмотря различные позиции, как Конвенция о правах людей с ограниченными возможностями, так и Закон об общем образовании считают инклюзивное образование одним из важнейших критериев при решении вопросов о маргинализации и социальной изоляции. На сегодняшний день всего 2-3 процента детей с ограниченными возможностями посещают школу, и в преобладающем большинстве образовательных систем по всему миру инклюзивное образование остается крайне ограниченным, если оно вообще существует.
Авторы данной статьи концентрируют внимание на Конвенции о правах людей с ограниченными возможностями, являющейся частью универсальных политических рамочных условий Закона об общем образовании. В данной статье авторы открыто рассматривают противоречия между универсальным общем образованием и образованием людей с ограниченными возможностями. В статье рассматриваются такие аспекты, как труднодоступные дети, факт неупоминания людей с ограниченными возможностями в статистических данных ЮНЕСКО, обязательства по развитию и возрастающая сегрегация. Однако в контексте глобальной системы управления образованием необходимо констатировать прогрессивные шаги по отношению к людям с ограниченными возможностями, хотя утверждение эффективных, проактивных позиций доклада ограничено и сжато политическими системами и их формальной авторитарностью и финансовой политикой.
Ключевые слова: общее образование, Конвенция о правах людей с ограниченными возможностями, международная система управления образованием, инклюзивное образование, маргинализация, инвалидность
Zusammenfassung (Kas Mazurek & Margaret Winzer: Schnittpunkte der Bildung für alle und das Übereinkommen über die Rechte von Menschen mit Behinderungen: Erörterung widerstreitender internationaler Haltungen zur inklusiven Schule): Bildung für alle (EFA) wurde in einer Reihe von UN-Gipfeln und Tagungen in den 1990er Jahren unter anderem mit genannt. Im Jahr 2000 verabschiedeten die Regierungen auf der ganzen Welt das Dakar Framework, das sowohl auf die Entwicklung der Bildung als auch auf die Beseitigung der Armut gerichtet war. Im Jahr 2006 hatten Veränderungen in der globalen Landschaft auch Auswirkungen auf Menschen mit Behinderungen – mit dem Übereinkommen über die Rechte von Menschen mit Behinderungen (CRPD). Obwohl sich ihre Positionen unterscheiden, identifizieren sowohl CRPD als auch EFA die inklusive Bildung als eine der wichtigsten Strategien, um Fragen der Marginalisierung und Ausgrenzung anzugehen. Allerdings gehen nur 2 bis 3 Prozent der Menschen mit Behinderungen in die Schule, und in der überwiegenden Mehrheit der Bildungssysteme auf der ganzen Welt, bleibt die inklusive Bildung äußerst begrenzt bis nicht existent.
Dieser Beitrag konzentriert sich auf die Behindertenrechtskonvention, eingebettet in die universalen politischen Rahmenbedingungen von Bildung für alle. Er richtet die Aufmerksamkeit explizit auf Widersprüche zwischen der universalen EFA und der behinderungszentrierten CRPD. Betrachtet werden Aspekte wie z.B. schwer zu erreichende Kinder, die Nichterwähnung von Menschen mit Behinderungen in UNESCO-statistischen Daten, Entwicklungsagenden und die zunehmende Segregation. Zu konstatieren sind zwar Fortschritte der CRPD im Kontext eines globalen Bildungsmanagements, aber die Durchsetzung effektiver, proaktiver Positionen des Vertrages wird begrenzt und eingeschnürt durch politische Systeme und deren formale Autorität und Finanzierungpolitik.
Schlüsselwörter: Bildung für alle, Übereinkommen über die Rechte von Menschen mit Behinderungen, internationales Bildungsmanagement, inklusive Bildung, Marginalisierung, Behinderung
Much of our recent research joins the fields of special education and comparative education to examine various aspects of inclusive schooling for students with disabilities. We have devoted a considerable amount of space to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD, UN, 2006) and its impact- or hoped-for impact- on persons with disabilities and their schooling, particularly in developing nations (Winzer & Mazurek, 2014; 2015a, b).
Disability and its attendant education principles and practices are often considered to be specialty fields; scholarly commentary is primarily from the field of special education. In contrast to this view, we believe that inclusive schooling for students with disabilities should be deeply entrenched in the international discourse on educational opportunity and inequality. Disability deserves a central place in discussions about social and education reform, if only because of the numbers. Global estimates place from 650 million to one billion people in the disabled category, making it the world’s largest minority (UN, 2011). Levels of impairment appear highest in low-income countries, where disability is associated with multidimensional poverty (Winzer & Mazurek, 2015b). More than 80 percent of people with disabilities live in low-income nations; of the 93 to 150 million disabled children under 14 years of age, 85 percent are found in the South (UN 2011; UNESCO 2013-14).
Obviously, issues related to disability and inclusive schooling are multiple, diverse, and complex. In this paper, we reflect on disability-related education approaches of the United Nations as implicitly contained in Education for All (EFA) and explicitly detailed in the CRPD. Although EFA and the CRPD are ideologically in the same tradition, each espouses a different set of parameters to guide inclusive schooling. The respective directions and cadences connote subtle but real differences that underlie the “perceived failures to date of the EFA” for students with disabilities (UNICEF, 2012, p. 8).
Inclusive schooling is the fulcrum of our arguments, so it makes sense to begin with an outline of what inclusive schooling actually is, and then place the definitions within the disability-specific legislation embodied by the CRPD and located as part of the wider EFA. The hub of the paper centers on the fundamental incompatibility that exists between the two commitments in terms of in policy making, funding mechanisms, the population to be served, and the implementation process.
Two caveats are in order. First, length and time constraints mean that we must overlook vital pledges such as the Millennium Development Goals and skim over or ignore critical dimensions such as UNESCO’s responsibility, external aid, and donor agencies. (A full discussion is found in Winzer & Mazurek, 2015c). Second, as the CRPD is recent, few countries yet have the capacity needed to ensure full implementation of the treaty, limited information is available on planning and provision, and there is an absence of reliable and consistent data on the outcomes in developing nations (see UN, 2013b, 2013c). Current data is therefore best seen as flows of change rather than a set of informed conclusions or clear, unambiguous trends.
Defining inclusive schooling within international governance
The generic term, inclusion, is broad and generally seen as a philosophy that aims to maximize the participation of all in society and education by minimizing exclusionary and discriminatory practices (Booth, 2005). Inclusive schooling is more difficult. A single, universal, or generally accepted version simply does not exist; both ideologically and operationally inclusive schooling is contested and passed off in many guises (Slee, 2014, p. 217). Because its interpretation is the product of a particular way of thinking, multiple epistemological and philosophical ravines divide advocates.
The burning question germane to this paper is how to frame theoretically the population for inclusive education. One school of thought views the debate about the rights of the disabled as being intimately connected to a larger debate about the place of difference in society. Inclusive education is therefore an approach that sets out to transform education systems and other learning environments in order to address and respond to the diversity of all learners. The central issue for a secondary school is how to accommodate one particular kind of diversity, that is, students who have differences that substantially change the way they learn, respond, or behave. The latter perspective seeks to establish disability as a centerpiece in policy making, arguing that a narrow focus will facilitate stronger advocacy at national and international levels for a traditionally marginalized group.
This semantic debate is significant and consequential; how inclusive schooling is defined is important. Definitions both locate the action required to address the processes associated with it and bracket those with disabilities within different paradigms. The current lack of consensus on definitions among global organizations exacerbates difficulties surrounding reform initiatives, and is the essence of the different cadences that we identify within EFA and the CRPD.
Education for All
The idea of universal education first emerged during the formation of UNESCO in 1945. Education for All (EFA) was formally delineated in 1990 (UNESCO, 1990) and reaffirmed in 2000 with the creation of the Dakar Framework for Action. Education for All was the global agenda tasked with achieving Dakar’s six-goal time-bound education framework (UNESCO, 2000). Broadly, the Dakar goals established a unifying set of development objectives for the global community. They sought to end the cycle of exclusion from education associated with chronic poverty and endow the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people the social and economic benefits of schooling.
The logic of EFA matches the conception of inclusive schooling as universal entitlement to accommodate diversity and stresses that education should take place in environments that are inclusive of all learners. Inclusive schooling is “a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners,” defined as the “presence, participation, and achievement” of all young people in mainstream settings (UNESCO, 2005, p. 15). It seeks to increase the participation of all students with unmet learning needs including girls, children from ethnic minorities, those from poor and remote communities, as well as students with disabilities (Giffard-Lindsay, 2007).
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Dakar Framework represented a purposeful and deliberate set of activities on the global front to direct the EFA agenda. However, at its roots, EFA is a moral commitment from the international community that lacks legal effect. On the other hand, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN, 2006) is a holistic UN human rights treaty that, in theory at least, represents binding legislation on nations that ratify it. The treaty, along with its Optional Protocol, was adopted by consensus by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 13, 2006. It opened for signatures on March 30, 2007, and entered into force on May 3, 2008 after receiving the twentieth ratification. As of June 2013, 132 nations had ratified the treaty. Notably, although the United States signed in 2009, it will not ratify the Convention (Lynch, 2014).
The CRPD is first and foremost meant for people with disabilities (Rieser, 2012; Winzer & Mazurek, 2014). The Preamble, 50 Articles, and 18-Article Optional Protocol legitimize the exclusive concerns and restrict the scope to the specific rights of those with disabilities. Article 24 codifies a core set of education obligations for the provision of equal access to schooling. Ratifying nations agree to“ensure an inclusive education system at all levels” so that “persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability” (Article 24).
Untangling the CRPD and EFA scripts
Goal 2 of the Dakar Framework set out to ensure that “by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances, and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to complete free and compulsory education of good quality” (UNESCO, 2000). Though theoretically inclusive of all learners and explicitly pro-poor, the Dakar goals overlooked the links between disability, poverty, and social and educational exclusion; issues surrounding disability were not articulated, much less accounted for (Inclusion International, 2009). It was only in 2002 that annual EFA meetings included disability organizations for the first time and singled out disability as a specific target for action (Lawrence, 2004). Addressing disablity within EFA was then flagged as a key development issue and as a global EFA initiative (UNESCO, 2003; World Bank, 2002).
The main arguments held that the Dakar targets would not be achieved without the inclusion of those with disabilities in education. Complementary assumptions held that national progress in education would eventually trickle down to the most disadvantaged (UNESCO, 2010) while the 2002 Flagship and the CRPD would fill gaps and secure rights for children and youth with disabilities. Today, these promises are unkept and it appears that the assumptions are flawed. Accumulated data from EFA Global Monitoring Reports together with reviews by OECD (2007) and UNICEF (2005) do little to credit the effectiveness of global commitments to universal primary education in securing access for students with disabilities.
True, Annual EFA Global Monitoring Reports document marked successes on criteria related to participation. For example, since 1999 the numbers of out-of-school children have fallen from 108 million to 57 million (UNESCO, 2012). Still, developments, by and large, fall short of what was envisaged: not a single Dakar goal was achieved globally by 2015. And, most importantly for the subject of this paper, programs have failed to reach marginalized and vulnerable groups. Together with child labor and ill health, UNESCO (2010) identifies disability as a major barrier to achieving the goal of universal primary education.
Of those still out of school, it is estimated that one third have disabilities (Barriga, 2012; Miles & Signal, 2009). While data are too speculative, dated, and unreliable to pinpoint prevalence rates (UNICEF, 2015), researchers note it that one in ten children in developing nations has an educational special need (Dawson, Hollins, Mukongolwa, & Witchalls, 2003). Only about 2 percent of disabled children receive education, worldwide (Coulby & Zambeta, 2005; World Bank, 2009). Put another way, 90 percent of children and youth with disabilities are not attending school in developing nations (UN, 2011). Additionally, girls have even less access than boys.
Bernard (2001) described “an intricate web of education-related factors that play out in a process of being and becoming excluded” (p. 4). These include social stigmatization, negative public attitudes, and prevalent views that some children are uneducable. There is a persistent lack of public support for inclusive schooling; disabled students are seen as an additional burden: a drain on meager resources in overcrowded and under-resourced schools, and under-producers and academic liabilities (Winzer & Mazurek, 2015a). Continued and pervasive exclusion for children and youth with disabilities also rests on and feeds into contrary expectations and two all-too-often distinct conversations about ‘all’ and ‘inclusive education’ created by EFA and the CRPD. Below we outline some, but certainly not all, of the intimately connected, overlapping, and tangled dimensions.
• Disability tends to fall off the statistical map. Disability data are particularly weak in low-income nations (Eide & Loeb, 2005; Peters, 2008) and there are multiple calls for more robust disability statistics. The drafters of the CRPD, for example, were deeply concerned about the dearth of disability-specific data and statistics. Article 31 requires State Parties to “collect appropriate information including statistical and research data in order to create and implement policies that give effect to the Convention.” UNESCO stated that the “starting point” for extending education to children with disabilities should be “a credible needs assessment based on a national survey of the prevalence of disability” (UNESCO, 2010, p. 203). Unfortunately, rhetoric outweighs operation: disability is one of the most neglected areas in EFA monitoring reports. EFA reports do not disaggregate data for students with disabilities, do not spell out the situations of disabled children in much empirical detail, and do not engage in any great depth with the educational status of such children.
Invisibility in EFA reports, international pledges, and demographic surveys inevitably leads to invisibility to government departments of education, to international agencies, and to donor networks. It follows that national governments and multinational donors have failed to give adequate attention to the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in mainstream development policy (Lord et al., 2010) while inclusive education for those disabled remains a fringe policy issue that has gained little attention within mainstream development (Handicap International, 2013).
• The struggle to develop primary education for all children takes precedence over the needs of students with disabilities. Accommodating all forms of diversity is key to EFA’s emphasis on increasing the participation of students with unmet learning needs who represent multiple social differences and attributes. In contrast, the CRPD’s assertion of privilege and priority is solely for disabled students. The text implicitly posits that disability is not simply another form of diversity and educational remedies are not the same as remedies for other types of difference. Explicitly, the CRPD seeks to privilege disability through a minority rights approach that essentially involves the identification of a class of persons entitled to protection from discrimination and special measures to compensate for disadvantage (Kayess & French, 2008). The emphasis is on both the right to education and to equity and inclusion in the general system as part of that right.
Hence, the CRPD’s dominant global discourse on education for those disabled depicts inclusive schooling as a philosophy and program pinned to a non-negotiable set of precepts while EFA’s principle of inclusion is expressed in “a child-seeking school” that “actively seeks out all eligible children for enrolment” (UNICEF, 2009, p. 9). When put to the test, the circumscribed claims of the CRPD are unevenly integrated into EFA. Currently, the strongest political and policy links in developing nations are broad international education targets; disability is viewed as just one cross-cutting issue to be pursued alongside gender, ethnic, and other issues (Bines & Lei, 2011).
• Dakar’s goals lacked precise targets and indicators. This translates into a lack of clarity over what equitable provision for those with disabilities concretely looks like in the areas of planning, implementation, and monitoring. For example, while many developing countries go through the process of preparing comprehensive sector plans that focus on country-specific education issues, reports associated with various donor agencies show that disability is inadequately addressed in sector plans (e.g., Ahuja, 2005; Bines & Lei, 2011; World Vision, 2007). Despite the explicit obligations entailed by the CRPD, in many instances inclusive provision is not documented, even for planning purposes (Bines & Lei, 2011). Dedicated schooling for those with disabilities is generally viewed as a discretionary responsibility rather than a core value; disability-specific initiatives are adjuncts of, not integral to, the EFA (Thomas, 2005).
• Education cemented to utility is a central preoccupation of EFA. Utility-related benefits drive EFA strategy so that “the discourse is concerned with inclusion being potentially the most cost and time-efficient way of improving access to educational institutions” (Giffard-Lindsay, 2007, p. 5). Utility generally implies access to an educational package, no matter how basic that package may be. When inclusion is interpreted mostly as ensuring that all children are within the educational system, systems may see any education as a major step toward inclusion, and all settings, from mainstream classrooms to special schools, are considered inclusive (Kalanypur & Misra, 2011).
In its solemn affirmation of the rights of persons with disabilities to education and equity, the CRPD does not refer to existing special education settings such as special classes and special schools. Rather, it valorizes full inclusion as the norm or the baseline and highlights how it is to be implemented and guaranteed. However, indifferent EFA participation adds to the continuity of segregation. Enrolment is general schools is often simply denied; when students are enrolled, provision remains in separate special education programs. Donors in developed countries have mostly funded non-government organizations to deliver special education in separate settings and many nations are actively involved in building more special schools (Inclusion International, 2009; Kalanypur & Misra, 2011; Winzer & Mazurek, 2015a).
Education for All is an ambitious international movement to expand learning opportunities for every child and youth. Inclusive schooling is a globally influential set of theories and practices that are conceptualized in certain ways in international discourse. At least two parallel conversations about inclusive schooling are occurring and the global education advocacy regimes seem to be in competition. EFA defines inclusion as being concerned with the right to non-discriminatory provision together with a conviction that schools have a responsibility to educate all children (UNESCO, 2005). The minority rights stance of the CRPD privileges disability.
The Dakar Framework that clarified the goals of EFA essentially overlooked disability. However, the Convention should span the link to EFA, make the international architecture of EFA more effective, and place disability within the frame of a global compact on education for development and poverty eradication. But, as the above examples show, embedding the CRPD within the EFA has a dismal record to date. The intersection of the politics of difference that inform the CRPD and the discourses and discursive practices of EFA create a situation of unresolved misassumptions that curtail efforts to secure access for those with disabilities (Winzer & Mazurek, 2015c).
The moral reform of the CRPD that sees disability as inequality is trumped by the EFA’s powerful emphasis on broad access and utility. Generally, disability is blanketed under overall accessibility for disparate groups of disadvantaged people. Despite promises of universal access unfer the EFA umbrella, those with disabilities still form a radically marginalized sector of society that has “remained relatively invisible in the efforts to achieve universal access to primary education” (UNICEF, 2012, p. 8). In result, the inclusion factor for those with disabilities is sidelined; this in turn reinforces and justifies a mélange of options and a range of provisions from special schools to general classes.
Deliberations about the implementation of the CRPD continue in multiple areas and contexts-legal aspects, standards, the interpretation of fundamental principles, the quality of social inclusion and, most particularly, inclusive schooling (Pfahl & Powell 2014). Subscription to the ideals of the CRPD is growing, but progress is distressingly slow and confused and it is almost impossible to predict the future course.
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About the Authors
Prof. Dr. Kas Mazurek: Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge (Canada), contact: email@example.com
Prof. Dr. Margaret Winzer: Professor Emerita, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge (Canada), contact: firstname.lastname@example.org