Early childhood and schools

Special Education Needs in South America


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Education for all children, including those with special educational needs (SENDDD) is now part of the global agenda of developing education for all. This goal has been achieved following extensive discussions within the international community following conferences in Jomtien (1990) in Salamanca (1994) and most recently in Dakar (2000).

One of the key elements to achieving education for all is to develop effective monitoring systems that can provide accountability for the education being offered to all children and can communicate progress in the context of national and international comparisons. These points are fully recognised in the document describing the plan of action for the Americas, prepared for the Education for All world congress in Dakar (World Education Forum, 2000). However, as important as they are, such systems remain under-developed even in OECD countries especially for students with SEN.

In order to tackle this problem OECD has, for more than a decade, pioneered work in the field of education statistics and indicators. Over the past five years this work has also focused on students with SEN as defined in ISCED 97  (UNESCO, 1997). The task has begun of operationalizing this definition, and developing a system for gathering data in order to make valid comparisons between countries. Furthermore, a range of comparative statistics and indicators has been published (OECD, 1998, 2000, 2000a) and the work is progressing to investigate ways of measuring student outcomes that will allow for both national and international comparisons.

While the work has developed most quickly in OECD countries, from the outset, it has been informed by the experiences of non-OECD countries in order to strengthen the generalisability of the model.

The SENDDD-Americas project extends the work developed at OECD into Latin America, following interest expressed at a launching meeting of country representatives and experts held in Mexico City in 2003. The project provides the opportunity of creating a system of Indicators on students with disabilities, difficulties and disadvantages that will apply across the Americas (North America, Central America and the Caribbean Islands, and South America).



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