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ag. 20 2013

Education for All and inclusive education (In Memoriam Ferran Ferrer)

The recent death of Prof Ferran Ferrer at a premature age is certainly a blow for those of us who worked with him, as well as a reverse for the academic community. This post is a simple way to remember a colleague and a friend.

While available comments of Prof Ferrer’s work remind of his role in introducing rigorous debate on the evaluation of education policy in Catalonia (find a short obituary in Catalan here as well as a brief bio in English here), I would like to elaborate on one of his contributions to international and comparative education, which I was lucky to share with him.

Professor Ferrer was actively interested and involved in the “inclusive education” approach to education policy. Such label stresses the relevance of the necessary pedagogic, organisational and policy changes in order to guarantee a basic education to all students regardless of either their physical and psyschological condition or their social background and cultural origin. Actually, this approach underscores the wider notion of basic education that was mentioned in the general statements of Education for All in 1990 and 2000 but was narrowed down by the ulterior definition of both EFA indicators and Millennium Development Goals.

Fortunately, I could collaborate with him on an article about the importance of educational action against social inequalities in the frame of inclusive education. Drawing on the proceedings of the 2008 International Conference of Education we observed that the understanding of this concept varied dramatically across world regions. Furthermore, we realised that the bulk of educational anti-inequality strategies were addressed to single schools, thus overlooking the policy cycle.

Prof. Ferrer also collaborated in other collective works on this issue, mostly the article that produced a general picture of the most relevant questions for education policy. Besides reminding of research findngs on comprehensive education, dealing with possible conceptual misunderstandings, and framing the necessary links between inclusive education and human rights, this other piece of academic work also made a very relevant point. Notably, it argued for the necessary connection between EFA and inclusive education if the broader notion of basic education was to be fully implemented. In the view of the authors, inclusive education must be understood as a process whereby a variety of strategies are deployed in order to improve the learning of all students. In the view of the authors,  the necessary success of such a process requires both improved initial and in-service teacher training, and if necessary, significant changes in professional cultures.


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