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Inclusive education in the Lebanese education system

This presentation was proposed during the AREF congress, which took place from 3 to 5 July 2019 in Bordeaux. This meeting was an opportunity to present a study on the theme of inclusive education conducted in Lebanon by T.I.E.S, in collaboration with Professor Serge Ramel of the Haute école pédagogique du canton de Vaud (Switzerland). The detailed content of this study will be published shortly.

As a founding member of the United Nations, Lebanon is a party to many United Nations and UNESCO  international declarations or conventions. As international legislation has developed, this commitment has been embodied in the principle of Education for All and more particularly inclusive education (Ramel & Vienneau, 2016). Through its international commitments, Lebanon aims to include its educational policy in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG4 and SDG17. While the first aims to "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all", the second seeks to "Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development" (Figure 1).

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However, the multiplicity of educational actors in Lebanon, whether public, subsidized private or paid private, which is a result of the constitution, complicates the implementation of these international guidelines (Frangieh, 2017). Everyone tries to develop inclusive practices adapted to their context, while the room for manoeuvre is not the same for all schools. They thus carry out their own projects according to their financial means and convictions.
Many schools do not accept students with special educational needs (SEN) because of both the lack of a regulatory framework and their limited resources (Frangieh, 2017). Many children are also unable to access schooling, a phenomenon reinforced by even higher school fees for this category of pupils and the lack of facilitators to access schools (Figure 2).
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The structures and systems in Lebanon for the education of students with SEN then vary from the most segregated schooling (in specialized centers) to the least restrictive possible (in a regular classroom). As a result, the nature of the interventions and supports offered may differ considerably from one school to another. This gap is reinforced by the lack of a clear and coherent national policy that leads each school to feel free to make and implement its own choices (Figure 3).

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A systematic review methodology (Young & Eldermire, 2017) was applied. The work and projects related to inclusive education in Lebanon were analysed, whether they are carried out by public or private bodies involved in different capacities or at different levels (public or private schools, NGOs, the European Union, UNESCO, UNICEF, etc.). This analysis shows that inclusive education in Lebanon is a work in progress coordination and without a global action plan. This work dynamic encourages both initiatives and generates difficulties in carrying them out. Socio-political injunctions thus struggle to lead to effective practices that can combat school failure and dropout (Bonvin et al., 2013).

This synthesis shows that the development of inclusive education in Lebanon is marked by uncertainties, tensions and contradictions. It also shows the limitations of an approach that remains rooted in disability integration and compensation, even if it is called inclusion. Changing terms does not always improve practices (Thomazet, 2009) (Figure 4).

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Inclusive practices in education

This presentation was proposed in the context of ABLE SUMMIT 2019 (Accessibility for Bolder Learning Experience). It provided an in-depth discussion leading to a broad understanding of the concepts of inclusive education and the practices that support their implementation. A workshop model was utilized to gain a conceptual representations of the participants and analyze these in light of the academic framework of inclusive practice for the 21st century. Case study examples related to inclusive practices in Lebanon were discussed and analyzed to offer context to the discussion.

The significant role technology plays in making inclusive education more applicable than ever before was highlighted and evaluated. Examples of classroom based and assistive technologies were shared and the associated pedagogy that supports technology increased inclusive practice and learning.

Inclusive and equitable education

What does inclusive education mean to you?

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