Similar to inclusive education, UDL is often viewed as an approach only for the inclusion of learners with disabilities. However, it is a practice aimed at the inclusion of all learners, irrespective of the kind of barriers to learning that they face. UDL recognises that everyone learns differently and is an instructional strategy that can address systemic inequality and discrimination, which may arise from an intersectionality of multiple forms of disadvantage (e.g. racial inequality, gender discrimination, poverty, disability stigma). UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report 2020 strongly recommends the adoption of UDL at government level so that it becomes an integral part of countries’ inclusive education policies.
CBM, while acknowledging the growing importance of UDL as a framework for implementing inclusive education, also recognised that there was minimal evidence and guidance on how it might be effectively implemented in LMICs. Without deeper knowledge of UDL in LMICs, CBM considered its promotion of and training in this approach premature. Consequently, the Including Disability in Education in Africa (IDEA) research unit at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, was commissioned to review current UDL practices, training needs and relevant online resources in LMICs.
Given the gap in research and knowledge of how and where inclusive education is implemented in LMICs, and the extent to which UDL forms part of this implementation, the terms of reference for this research were to review current practices of UDL in LMIC settings with a view to forming recommendations for capacity-development resources and materials. An area identified as particularly important was understanding current teacher training in UDL in order to identify context-relevant capacity-building needs for professional development.