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News Release (March 2013)

 

The Next Frontier Inclusion: Johannesburg

In his memorable inaugaral address President Obama traced the history of human rights in the United States from Seneca Fall to Selma to Stonewall.  He clearly indicated that the journey is far from over.

We agree.

And that is why almost a hundred of us gathered recently in South Africa to have in-depth, structured conversations about the inclusion of children with special learning needs in international schools.  We see the inclusion of these children as the next frontier in our journey towards educational equity.

From March 14-16, 2013 ninety four international school heads, board members, principals, curriculum directors, special educators and classroom teachers met at the American International School of Johannesburg in South Africa and engaged in a professional conversation on how we might build the capacity of our respective schools to serve a more learning diverse population.

The Next Frontier Initiative believes that:

High quality education is a basic human right of all children

We need to redefine international education to be inclusive of students who learn differently or at different rates.

Parents who travel overseas should not have to leave some of their children behind or divide their families between schools.

We are committed to a planned and carefully managed approach to including students who have special needs or may be exceptionally capable.

The inclusion of children requiring learning support enhances the education of all children.

During our time together, we explored both philosophical and practical issues relating to robust learning support programs.  We engaged in simulations, round table discussions; break out sessions and focused reflection and planning.

Participants commented that what made the NFI Conversation really valuable was the in depth focus on a single educational issues (albeit a highly complex one) and the diversity of perspectives that were represented.

The NFI  Jo’burg Conversation included provocatively titled modules including: “Show me the money—Financing an Inclusive School” and “From Panic to Passion: Bringing Colleagues on Board.”  Other sessions included: De-mystifying special Education, an exploration of different models of service delivery, and admissions.  We also observed classes and had opportunities to talk with special needs students and teachers.

The schools represented in Johannesburg included:

UNIS Hanoi, IS Manila, Zurich International School, Copenhagen International School, International School of Bangkok, American International School of Johannesburg, International School of Brussels, American School of the Hague, Hong Kong International Academy, International Community School Addis Ababa, International School of Dhaka, British School of Geneva, American International School of Lusaka, American International School of Jeddah, American School of Yaoundé, American School of Brazzaville, Harare International School, International Community School of London, International School of Beijing,  International School of Tanganyika, International School of Havana, International School of Kenya, International School of Kuala Lumpur,  Luanda International School, and Singapore American School.

We are a collaborative group of schools that is ready and willing to support each other as we travel different roads towards inclusion.  We would welcome other schools that would like to join the important initiative.

The next NEXT FRONTIER Inclusion Professional Conversation will take place on November 23-25th, 2013 at the American School of the Hague.  The contact person is Danette Sack  (dsack@ash.nl).

From the Next Frontier Inclusion Design Team:

William Powell, Kevin Bartlett, Ochan Kusuma-Powell and Kristen Pelletier

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