What best describes equality, diversity and inclusion

Inclusion has been the subject of an interdisciplinary debate about sustainable models of a human-friendly and livable society, and not just since the ratification of the UN Convention for the Implementation of the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The view of change and development processes in social coexistence is made with very different glasses. Depending on personal preferences and interests, biographical experience, professional assignments or expertise, assigned roles or global challenges, questions are in the foreground, areas are completely hidden or cannot be perceived due to blind spots.

The present discussion is about a core, a heart of social change, the inclusive orientation. The basic idea is more than a temporary measure, it cannot be completed with a project or mastered with professional project management, it cannot be delegated and it is not only relevant for certain parts of society. Inclusion is effective on many levels, can be designed everywhere and by everyone and is an asset for everyone.

Inclusion is more than the integration of people with disabilities

In the discussion about the UN Convention, it should be emphasized that it is not about special rights for people with disabilities, but about the realization of general human rights. Because disability is only one of many possible attributions that can be the cause of disadvantage and exclusion. The lawyer, former child representative of the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia and member of the National Coalition for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in Germany, Dr. Reinald Eichholz, to the point:

“Overall, I have the impression that the current educational discussion has not yet achieved the comprehensive claims of the human rights conventions and that therefore the framework conditions for further development that are binding under international law are not present. Due to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, one gets used to thinking only of children and young people with disabilities when it comes to inclusion. As soon as the human rights background is clear, one thing is certain: inclusion means everyone. Every child has the right to belong, regardless of any kind of difference. "(Eichholz in: Schumann 2012)

The point is “not that individual schools 'want to become inclusive' and others remain as they have been up to now, but rather the human rights conventions require permanent inclusion from all schools, even where it is not about people with disabilities, but about segregation and exclusion of a different kind. What is required is a fundamentally different attitude towards diversity and diversity - with effects that actually affect the entire system, including educational standards and questions of assessment and authorization. "(Eichholz in: Schumann 2012)

Inclusion is a human right

Inclusion means that everyone is welcome, that is a very far-reaching statement. It applies to everyone regardless of their requirements, for children, young people or adults, for asylum seekers, for people with an immigrant background, for people of any sexual orientation and those who are classified as disabled or are affected by poverty in a dependent class - for highly gifted people who appear strange, intimidated and confused, demented and old people, for privately insured people or “cashiers”, in short, for all people of all kinds, even if they deviate from a constructed and widespread understanding of “normality”.

It is important to shape social coexistence for all people without exclusion and discrimination.

"To be welcome" means more than "to be there". “To be welcome” means to be recognized in your uniqueness, to be wanted, to be given scope and opportunities to develop potential. Everyone has the right to actively participate in social and cultural life and to help shape change processes. This requires an acceptance of different approaches and means of expression as well as an appreciative and respectful communication that is not exclusive.

Diversity enriches

Inclusion in this sense implies that diversity enriches. Often - especially in pedagogical contexts - difference and diversity are perceived as something “difficult to handle”, something threatening, something complicated and are more likely to be avoided. However, the more diverse and diverse the people in a group, a residential unit, a village or a city are, the more the community and each individual can benefit from it. Everyone is unique and can contribute something. The possibilities for diversity are endless.

Every participation, every active involvement and shaping of inclusive change processes not only leaves traces in social contexts, but also on those affected themselves. Experiencing one's own effectiveness and thereby feeling self-esteem strengthens self-confidence and the willingness to continue to express oneself actively and to participate. In this way, inclusive action makes an important contribution to the development of democracy.

Inclusion is a question of attitude and works on different levels

The handbook "Inclusion on site" (Montag Stiftung Jugend und Gesellschaft 2011, p. 24ff.) Describes various levels at which inclusive actions in communities become effective:

1. "I with myself: the level of the individual person". It includes “thinking about my attitude, my attitudes and points of view, my judgments and prejudices and my willingness to develop an inclusive attitude.” This also includes the use of my language and my communicative behavior.

2. “Me with you: the person-to-person level” in the neighborhood between the purely “private” and the “public”. This is about relationships and connections with others: I ask for support or offer help without expecting anything in return.

3. "We: the level of public organizations", institutions, companies, educational institutions, etc., d. H. the level of coordination of responsibilities and strategies in order to be able to achieve common inclusive goals. It is also about direct cooperation in such contexts and inclusive action in public space.

4. "We and We: the level of networking" of organizations and initiatives in a municipality, "which strive for inclusive living environments beyond their respective areas of responsibility." and the achievements of others recognized and valued.

5: "All together". At this level, the entire municipality or network sees itself as a whole and beyond as part of a global world. There is no fight against each other for resources, but strategies for a humane life for all people are developed together.

These five levels show how varied the possibilities are to participate in the inclusive coexistence of a (responsible) community. They also show how the diversity described above can be of benefit to everyone and how participation becomes possible: “The relationships become more complex from level to level - and yet there is a very simple starting point: At the beginning there is always the individual. Each of us creates the basis for what can be achieved on the next levels. The more people at this first level think about whether and where they can act in an inclusive manner, the more likely it is that the initiatives will succeed on the following levels. "(Montag Stiftung Jugend und Gesellschaft 2011, p.26f.)

Inclusion is a process

There is a tendency to develop fixed standards for inclusive institutions or to want to measure inclusion. The desire to establish criteria or standards for successful inclusion runs the risk of defining inclusion as a state of affairs and not taking into account that inclusion is always a process and rather a principle. It is more helpful and appropriate to ask what inclusive change processes are based on, what constitutes an inclusive frame of reference in relation to one's own area of ​​activity and to take the complexity of these processes seriously and to take it seriously.

Inclusion holds everyone accountable. An inclusive process can be started anytime, anywhere, by anyone and everyone. But no process will be the same. Behind every organization or institution that is based on inclusive obligations and rules, there is always the culture, history, vision, variety of actions of the people working in it and the environment around them.

We are always working on inclusion. For each process, criteria or indicators have to be “negotiated” again and again. What might mean huge progress towards inclusion for one school may have long been standard in another institution and other goals are being pursued there.

Inclusion says goodbye to the myth of homogeneity

The myth of homogeneity persists, especially in the field of education. According to this, children or learners can generally be divided into homogeneous groups, which are usually defined by performance. In doing so, other “characteristics” that make up the respective person are neglected.

It is important to recognize different dimensions of heterogeneity as being of equal value - categorizations in groups involve the danger of comparing them with one another, assigning them different values ​​and rights and reducing the individual with its many differences to one group membership.

The Zurich doctor Remo Largo differentiates between four dimensions of diversity as characteristics of child development and includes both the differences between each child and every other child, as well as the diversity and willingness to vary that each child carries within himself:

  • “Heterogeneity as an interindividual variability between children
  • Singularity as the variability of unique, different developmental courses in different children,
  • Diversity in the children themselves, e.g. B. what concerns different learning areas and
  • context-temporary variability of the children, depending on concrete situational conditions ”(Largo 2009, p. 18ff.).

If one takes this differentiated view of heterogeneity seriously, it is understandable that there are efforts in educational discussions to create organizational forms of learning settings that avoid a one-sided commitment to certain characteristics. Instead, they allow permeability and flexibility, which ultimately contributes to the development of potential for all children and young people.

Inclusion in education

The fact that the basic idea of ​​inclusion has not yet "arrived" to its full extent is shown again and again by examples that reduce inclusion to a few areas.

In a lecture in Münster at a conference of the Berg Fidel elementary school in 2012, Hans Wocken put it in a nutshell: He stated that inclusion does not mean a variety of learning locations, as many federal states are currently striving for in the school sector. It is not about constantly creating new forms of secondary school and then praising an inclusive school as another option, but about diversity in to recognize and guarantee the places of learning and thus not to exclude anyone.

The many models in the individual federal states are indeed confusing and do not contribute to the development of an inclusive attitude and a shared responsibility for all Children and adolescents.

According to Andrea Platte (2012), inclusive education means processes of supporting one and each individual learner - without exclusion or exception - and the resulting strength for a whole, be it a learning or play group, a class, a municipality. This also includes mutual recognition of all educational venues and cooperation between different areas. At the local level, the greatest effect is seen when schools and youth welfare work together.

As part of the project work with the practical handbook “Inclusion on site”, there are numerous excellent examples in this area. In the municipality of Hürth z. B. a number of inclusive impulses from the music school, which is a cultural educational institution for all understands and strives for a cooperation with schools and many local associations as well as the local administration or has already practiced it.

The “Index for Inclusion” - an international support tool

There are many instruments that help to shape certain phases of development processes in educational institutions. The “Index for Inclusion” (Boban / Hinz 2003) sees itself in a special way as an aid for inclusive change processes.

The Inclusion Index was developed in early 2000 by British educationalists Mel Ainscow and Tony Booth. Since then it has been translated into forty other languages ​​and used in many more countries. In 2003 Andreas Hinz and Ines Boban (Boban / Hinz 2003) translated it into German and adapted it for German conditions. It is now known in all federal states and is used in many schools as an aid to understanding and implementing inclusion.

The purpose of the index is:

  • the identification of barriers to participation
  • the development of solution ideas to overcome these barriers
  • the perception of the available resources and potential
  • enabling all members of an institution or system to participate actively
  • the orientation towards inclusive values

The "Index for Inclusion" contains detailed discussions about the term inclusion, many tips and experience reports as well as concrete methods and options for process design. At the core of the index are 560 questions that help to deal with the topic of inclusion from many different perspectives.

The questions are derived from three dimensions, namely “create inclusive cultures”, “establish inclusive structures” and “develop inclusive practices”, which in turn are differentiated according to areas and so-called indicators. The questions are then derived from this, e.g. B .:

  • "Are people received in a friendly manner when they first come into contact with the school?"
  • "Does the school let new employees feel that the experience and knowledge they bring to the school are valuable?"
  • "Are the students encouraged to explore perspectives that differ from their own?" (Boban / Hinz 2003, p. 53; p. 67; p. 83)

The questions can be worked with in very different ways. At first glance they can be answered with yes or no - but the first look is deceptive: Working with the index questions means reflecting on yourself, checking your own thoughts and actions; it means exchanging ideas with others, discovering and using the curiosity for other opinions and perspectives as well as the variety of experiences and knowledge. It is not about the “correct” answers, but about open dialogue. By learning to value different experiences and perspectives and on this basis to develop ideas for improvements, inner participation, solidarity, connection and assumption of responsibility and thus “real” participation develop (cf. Brokamp, ​​2011).

The questions in the index can be used as an introduction, as a permanent accompanying reflection or as an aid for an evaluation. They help the members of a school community to look at their activities and practices, culture and structures and ensure an “inclusive view”. Beyond schools and other educational institutions, they are helpful in all areas of responsibility - in school authorities, competence teams, specialist groups, teams and managements they sharpen awareness in order to avoid or reduce exclusion - on both a small and large scale.

In 2011 Tony Booth published a revised (English) version of the “Index for Inclusion”. In this edition Tony Booth has reflected on the ten years of experience from working with the index in the various countries and has developed some new aspects. Interesting in this context are the emphasis on inclusive values ​​and the development of a curriculum for schools that should meet these requirements (Booth / Ainscow 2011).

“For me, values ​​are the basis for orientation and a call to action. They drive us, give us a sense of direction and define a goal.If we are to judge whether we are doing or have done the right thing, we need to understand the relationship between our actions and our values. Because everything that includes others is based on values. Every action is a moral statement, whether we want it or not. With a frame of reference for values, we define how we want to live together now and in the future and how we want to learn from one another. Since we always use values ​​in our actions, as a practical step we should always be clear about the concrete connection of our actions with certain values. "(Booth 2012, p. 186f.)

Then value orientations are named that are realized through one's own actions such as: equality (equality); Rights (rights); Participation (participation); Community / municipality (community); Compassion (compassion); Appreciating diversity (respect for diversity); Sustainability (sustainability); Nonviolence (non-violence); Honesty (honesty); Trust (trust); Courage (courage); Love for people and things (love); Joy / fun (joy); Hope / optimism (hope / optimism); the experience of individual beauty (beauty); Honesty (honesty), Trust (trust) and courage (courage).

Booth shows the various approaches to the index in a schematic representation of inclusive change processes in (educational) institutions (Booth 2012, p. 185). In particular, “bundling activities” and “forming alliances” hold great opportunities for different approaches to inclusive action, which certainly include areas of cultural education:

A good addition to working with the index is the practical manual “Inklusion vor Ort”, which can be used to support inclusive processes in municipalities, networks, municipal and other institutions. (Monday Youth and Society Foundation 2011). Many of the questions there are also applicable in educational institutions and sharpen the eye for social action.

Opportunities through municipal inclusion plans

There is currently a great opportunity in the creation of so-called inclusion plans that are being developed in the cities and municipalities. They offer the opportunity to consolidate the importance of cultural education in a sustainable and long-term manner.

“Being obliged to take responsibility as a community in a self-effective and participatory manner speaks for a high degree of responsibility, of sovereignty and, with regard to inclusive values, for a clearly affirming position on human rights. With this attitude the view is opened to one's own potential and resources. (...) Local self-design needs this value-oriented and sovereign basic attitude at all levels and it needs newly constructed planning and implementation processes. The commissioned committees on site are experienced in creating regional plans, but the complexity and complexity of the inclusion development mandate requires a modified, namely inclusive, construction of the overall process. "(Patt 2012, pp. 209f.)

As foundations and opportunities for this inclusive construction of municipal action plans, Patt formulates thirteen quality criteria or basic qualities that are important in the individual stages of the development of such plans:

  1. "Inclusion plans are designed in a participatory, transparent and dialogical manner right from the start."
  2. "The municipal inclusion planning needs the alignment and constant connection to inclusive values, a formulated inclusive model based on linguistic understanding and definition."
  3. "Municipal inclusion planning needs the (municipal) political commitment of the sovereign as well as the unambiguousness of the mandate."
  4. "The planning is inspired by visions as a draft of what is possible in the future."
  5. "The inclusion plan describes demanding, effective and feasible target stages, starting in one area in small steps."
  6. "Inclusion planning records and considers all dimensions, levels and areas of life in the community."
  7. "The action plan is specified in time stages."
  8. "The existing potential and positive experiences are recorded and all barriers to participation are identified and analyzed."
  9. "The available resources and resources to be activated are described."
  10. "The responsibilities and the contributions of those involved are specified and made binding."
  11. "The stages and forms of evaluation and updating have been agreed."
  12. "The project structure, process control and monitoring are installed."
  13. "The 'multi-level concept'" creates "the connection between vertical (municipality - district - state - federal) and horizontal levels of responsibility and planning in all municipal design areas through cross-sectoral overall planning with a qualitative focus". (Patt 2012, p. 210ff.)

In this context, too, the “Inclusion Index” can be helpful.


A core of social changes for a humane coexistence, namely the inclusive orientation, does not fall from the sky but is a question of the attitude and the acceptance of responsibility. "The basic conditions for a successful inclusion can also be characterized as an appreciation of diversity, the deliberate handling of diversity, heterogeneity as normality, the difference in common and the possibility of participatory communication." (Gilberger 2011). The design of the processes is everyone's job - it is important to use the current opportunities and challenges at all levels. There are already a number of examples, aids and instruments that make it possible for each and every one of us to get started with inclusive change processes.


Boban, Ines / Hinz, Andreas (Ed.) (2003): Index for Inclusion. Develop learning and participation in school for all. Halle-Wittenberg: Martin Luther University.

Booth, Tony / Ainscow, Mel (2011): Index for Inclusion. Developing Learning and Participation in Schools (Third edition and substantially revised and expanded). Bristol: Center for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE).

Booth, Tony (2012): The current “Index for Inclusion” in its third edition. In: Reich (2012), pp. 180-203.

Brokamp, ​​Barbara (2011): A municipal index for inclusion - or: How can municipal development processes be supported in a meaningful way? In: Flieger, Petra; Schönwiese, Volker (ed.): Human Rights - Integration - Inclusion. Bad Heilbrunn.

Demmer, Christine (2011): Thinking, designing and evaluating schools differently. A comparative study. Bonn: Monday Youth and Society Foundation.

Gilberger, Ruth (2011): Internal conversation record. Bonn: Monday Youth and Society Foundation. Unpublished.

Largo, Remo (2009): Childhood. The individuality of the child as an educational challenge. Munich: Piper.

Monday Youth and Society Foundation (2011): Inclusion on site. The Municipal Index for Inclusion - A Practical Guide. Berlin: Self-published by the German Association.

Patt, Raimund (2012): Municipal strategies: Make regional inclusion planning binding. In: Reich (2012), pp. 205-219.

Platte, Andrea (2012): Inclusive education as an international guiding principle and educational challenge. Unpublished manuscript.

Rich, Kersten (Ed.) (2012): Inclusion and Educational Justice. Standards and rules for implementing an inclusive school. Weinheim / Basel: Beltz.

Schumann, B. (2012): More than a regular school plus education for the disabled. Interview with Dr. Reinald Eichholz from 02/21/12. In: http://bildungsklick.de/a/82558/mehr-als-regelschule-plus- behindertenpaedagogik /