“Inclusive education is a structural reform of education”, said Minister João Costa, in a session to present the results of the Monitoring System for the Implementation of the Legal Regime for Inclusive Education in Portugal, referring that this reform “goes through the design of a school that does not serve the fallacious discourse of meritocracy, but designs a school for a very clear mission of taking each one further, not of an elite that already has everything for success”.
The minister noted that the path towards building an increasingly inclusive school did not begin with the current legislative framework, “but several decades ago”, when Portugal adhered to the Salamanca declaration of 1994.
The Salamanca Declaration is a United Nations resolution on special education that sets out standard procedures for equalising opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The Government realised that it was “in a position to go further and take another step”, moving from an “integrative to an inclusive perspective”, he said.
João Costa said that this new vision began to be designed in 2016 and included the work of “schools that already made a difference, because they did not see diversity as a problem but as an asset or as a mission”. In 2018, the decree-law was approved with the new rules for inclusive education.
According to João Costa, with this change, all “students have a place in the classroom”, with the curriculum being the main instrument for inclusion: “Each of us has the capacity to learn. None of us has the right to say that some of us don't learn,” he defended.