Rose, R. (2012) Ownership of the inclusion agenda: supporting communities towards a more equitable education system. Invited Keynote presented to: North South Dialogue IV: Implementing Tools of Change for Inclusion, Goa, India, 19-23 February 2012.
Debates and policy initiatives aimed at the development of a more inclusive education system have provided an important focus for professionals from many disciplines in recent decades. At international level, initiatives such as the Salamanca Statement (UNESCO 1994), the Dakar Framework for Action (2000), and the Millennium Development Goals (United Nations 2000) have highlighted the shortcomings of previous generations of administrators and policy makers in providing adequate educational opportunities for learners who have been marginalised as a result of disability, poverty, gender or political upheaval. These laudable documents have encouraged national governments to initiate policies in an attempt to redress the balance and challenge the inequalities that have been pervasive in many education systems. The translation of policy into practice has however, often proven to be difficult and slow to take place. This paper considers the difficulties of addressing inclusion through a top down, policy led model and will discuss why such an approach may be experiencing difficulties in respect of implementation and impact. It is suggested that in order for inclusive education to succeed it is necessary to enfranchise local communities by building upon current local experiences and expertise which through implementing change at a local level may influence a broader national and international picture.