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Hi, my name is Emiliano Naranjo and I’m from Argentina. I have a Bachelor degree in physical education from the National University of La Matanza (UNLAM), and a Master’s in education from Universidad de San Andrés (UdeSA). I earn my living as a teacher.
My interest in inclusive education arises in the first place from my personal history as a person with a disability. I went through all formal educational environments and, as such, lived and cohabited with situations of discrimination towards people with disabilities. These experiences continued until I became a professional educator. At that point, my commitment to inclusion went from being individual and experiential to ideological and collective. I believe fervently in inclusive education as a fundamental element for the construction of fairer societies.
I believe fervently in inclusive education as a fundamental element for the construction of fairer societies.
During 2017, together with several social organizations, we developed a project that consisted in bringing the topic of inclusive education to different schools in the Autonomous City and Province of Buenos Aires. We provided different schools with a series of training sessions, mainly from the pedagogical point of view. We discussed fundamental criteria of inclusive education such as diversity, teamwork and human rights. At the same time, we collected narrative experiences on inclusive education from many teachers in each school. This was an important aspect, as we felt that many times teachers’ voices on this topic are not heard at all. We also provided some training on legal aspects of the subject.
Most of the comments and concerns we received from teachers reflected the need to be supported to implement this public policy. Some teachers expressed the need to increase their knowledge on inclusive education through training and appropriate materials, which are currently not regularly available. Other teachers discussed the importance of availability of resources for inclusive education within their respective schools. For example, some complained about the lack of support or auxiliary teachers, which must be provided directly or indirectly by the State.
I believe that inclusive education is possible in any country, and therefore also in Argentina, as I think that it is always possible to build fairer societies. But I see key difficulties in countries like Argentina. On the one hand, these are linked to the lack of political commitment regarding the implementation of an inclusive education system. For example, it is important to point out that it is often unknown how much of a country’s education budget is directly or indirectly allocated to the development of an inclusive education system. On the other hand, the debates occurring in many countries are indicators of the level of progress of the inclusive education agenda. The issue of inclusive education is frequently approached from the extremes. This means, for example, that the whole debate is sometimes reduced to benefits and accreditation based on the income of people with disabilities and their families. Focusing only on income and accreditation is a perfect example of the scant consideration that is given to the inclusive education process. This issue is not minor, if you consider that public policies evaluate results. However, this a challenge from the pedagogical point of view: to evaluate learning by results – as if learning were a public policy – and not by processes. Inclusive education is mainly based on favoring learning processes and not results. I consider this as one of the most serious internal difficulties to carry out an inclusive education process in any country, since we live in a culture of results and not of processes. Nonetheless, as I said at the beginning, it is always possible to build fairer societies and this, of course, includes carrying out processes of inclusive education.
Inclusive education is mainly based on favoring learning processes and not results.
Next year I hope to return to teach at the university, to work on inclusive education at higher level. But at the same time, I will continue working in schools; I intend to support the creation of a school network to share good practices on inclusive education to accompany the teaching work.
[Cover photo: portrait of Emiliano Naranjo © Silvana Colombo]
Micaela is from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated as an Educational Psychologist from the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and has experience in high school, neurocognitive assessments and experiences of school inclusion of children with learning difficulties with a particular interest in Photo therapy. At the moment, she is working as a partner in the team Photo Therapy of Motivarte School and in different experiences of school inclusion of children with learning difficulties.