Why is it important for the educational community?
In order to promote inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, it is essential to adopt a broad and integrative perspective of the educational processes. It includes different educational methods, not only formally organized, but also those that provide contacts with different knowledge and practices, inside and outside the school/academic context (Zucchetti & Moura, 2010). It means that educational response to the transformations that result from economic, demographic and social changes necessarily requires greater investment in collaboration between the formal and non-formal system.
In Portugal, this ecological perspective and socio-educational practice, in formal and non-formal educational contexts, at different levels of education, has occupied over the years a position of prominence and growing expansion (Silva et al., 2010) among all agents, namely those directly or indirectly involved in it. In fact, from those directly in charge of the teaching and learning process, curriculum and program organizers, policy mentors and supervisors, students and their families, this ecological perspective is recognized far more than a purely local matter; by contrast, presents itself as an object of broad interest, with increasing visibility and legal structure (idem). This broader, inclusive and equitable perspective, that sustains the lifelong learning principle, requires communication and articulation of different languages and different knowledge, in a context of informality, which will help to promote creativity and diverse skills (knowledge, reasoning, communication, attitudes), leading to innovation and citizenship development. This networking scenario favors the emergence of new educational practices promoting social cohesion, which is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 4: “Quality education”.
To understand the global aspects of society and, at the same time, act to transform its local and community reality, inclusion presupposes the right of all to full and effective access and participation in the same educational contexts. At this moment, the Portuguese Government Program establishes, as one of its priorities, the commitment to an inclusive school where each and every student, regardless of their personal and social situation, finds answers that enable them to acquire a level of education and training that promotes their full social inclusion (Law 54/2018, 6th July). This inclusive commitment, in line with UNESCO (2009), integrates specific support resources for learning and inclusion, as community resources.
Taking into consideration the generational effects of educational processes, as we develop quality education today with the above assumptions, its effects will certainly be verifiable in the long term, meaning in future generations. So, quality education aims to build answers for the local challenges that each one faces, in different moments and in a macro scenario of global transformation intending to be socially inclusive.