Recognising our shared humanity: human rights and inclusive education in Italy and Australia

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    According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability, every child has a right to an inclusive education. However, this right is not realised for many children all over the world. In Australia, like many other countries, parallel systems of education still exist for children who are labelled 'disabled' or 'disordered'. In contrast, Italy abolished segregated schooling in 1977. In this paper I draw on interviews with Italian students, teachers and head-teachers, in pre-primary, primary and high school settings in one region of Italy, to develop an understanding of the meaning of ‘inclusion’ in this context. Major themes that emerged were: The need to develop a culture of inclusion and a strong sense of belonging; making a fundamental shift away from a compensatory or deficit view towards an embracing of diversity; and maintaining a strong commitment nationally to education of all children together from the early years onwards. Understanding inclusion as an ongoing process – rather than an endpoint – was seen as critical to inclusion and inclusive education. These themes are considered in light of a human rights approach to inclusive education and the insights provided by the participants in this study are discussed in relation to the commitment to moving towards greater inclusion in Australia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)151-169
    Number of pages19
    JournalItalian journal of disability studies
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • inclusion
    • inclusive education
    • human rights
    • disability
    • studies
    • integrazione scolastica


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