Disability, Inclusion and Language-in-Education Policy in the Global South: The Colombian Context

Keywords: language-in-education policy, Global South, inclusion, disability, English language teaching


This paper calls for a shift related to English language-in-education policy and inclusive education initiatives in Colombia to ensure that English language learners with disabilities receive equitable and inclusive classroom instruction that is context-appropriate. We call for English language initiatives and policies to draw from theories and practices from both the Global South and the Global North in order to teach towards inclusive education. Trends in both English language teaching and inclusive education have drawn upon the Global North for solutions, which cannot be systemised to fit one international standard. Instead, using the Colombian context as an example, the present paper suggests a localised approach to meeting the educational needs of English language learners that incorporates inclusive education at the institutional level. This model would favour the work of scholars within the region to ensure that all students receive equitable classroom instruction that builds in Global South epistemologies and localised ways of knowing.


Download data is not yet available.


Anderson C. E., & David, R. D. (2022). Situating futures literacies in the Colombian educational system: A decolonizing theoretical model. Foresight. Vol. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/FS-12-2021-0246

Anderson, C. E., Medina Cuesta, L., David, R. D., & McDougald, J. S. (2022). CLIL and the dynamics of policy and sectorisation in Colombia. In E. Codó (Ed.), Global CLIL: Critical, Ethnographic and Language Policy Perspectives (pp. 74–95). Taylor & Francis.

Barnawi, O., & Phan, L. H. (2014). From western TESOL classrooms to home practice: A case study with two ‘privileged’ Saudi teachers. Critical Studies in Education, 56(2), 259–276. https://doi.org/10.1080/17508487.2014.951949

Behrman, J. R., Gaviria, A., & Székely, M. (Eds.). (2003). Who’s in and who’s out: Social exclusion in Latin America. Johns Hopkins University Press.

Beltrán-Villamizar, Y. I., Martinez-Fuentes, Y. L, & Vargas-Beltrán, A. S. (2015). El sistema educativo Colombiano en el camino hacia la inclusión. Avances y retos. Educación y educadores 18(1), 62–75.

Bettney, E. (2022). Examining hegemonic and monoglossic language ideologies, policies, and practices within bilingual education in Colombia. Ikala, Revista de Lenguaje y Cultura, 27(1), 249–270.

Bohn, H. (2003). The educational role and status of English in Brazil. World Englishes, 22(12), 159–172.

British Council. (1989). A survey of English language teaching and learning in Colombia: A guide to the market. English Language Promotion Unit.

British Council. (2015). English in Colombia: An examination of policy, perceptions and influencing factors. https://bit. ly/2DLsWJK

Chowdhury, R., & Phan L. H. (2008). Reflecting on Western TESOL training and communicative language teaching: Bangladeshi teachers' voices, Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 28(3), 305–316. https://doi.org/10.1080/02188790802236006

Cook, P. (2015). Strengthening Colombian indicators for protection in early childhood. The International Journal of Children’s Rights, 23(3), 638–660.

Comaroff, J., & Comaroff, J. L. (2011). Theory from the South: Or, how Euro-America is evolving toward Africa. Routledge.

UN General Assembly. (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1577, p. 3. https://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38f0.html

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Geneva, United Nations. (2006). http://www.un.org/disabilities/

Correa-Montoya, L., & Castro-Martinez, M. C. (2016). Disability and social inclusion in Colombia. Saldarriaga-Concha Foundation alternative report to the committee on the rights of persons with disabilities. Saldarriaga-Concha Foundation Press.

Cruz-Velandia, I., Duarte-Cuervo, C., Fernández-Moreno, A., & García-Ruiz, S. (2013). Caracterización de investigaciones en discapacidad en Colombia 2005-2012. Revista de la Facultad de Medicina, 61(2), 3–8.

Dados, N., & Connell, R. (2012). The Global South. Contexts, 11(1), 12–13. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1536504212436479

de Mejía, A. M. (2002). Power, prestige and bilingualism. International perspectives on elite bilingual education. Multilingual Matters.

de Mejía, A. M. (2004). Bilingual education in Colombia: Towards an integrated perspective. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 7(5), 381–397.

de Mejía, A. M. (2013). Bilingual education in Colombia: The teaching and learning of languages and academic content area knowledge. In C. Abello-Contesse, P. M. Chandler, M. D. López-Jiménez, & R. Chacón-Beltrán (Eds.), Bilingual and multilingual education in the 21st century: Building on experience, multilingual matters (pp. 42–57). Multilingual Matters.

de Sousa Santos, B. (2018). The end of the cognitive empire: The coming of age of the epistemologies of the South. Duke University Press.

Echeita Sarrionandia, G., & Ainscow, M. (2011). Inclusive education as a right: Framework and guidelines for action for the development of a pending revolution. Tejuelo,12, 26–46.

Eliecer Benavides, J. (2021). Level of English in Colombian higher education: A decade of stagnation. Profile: Issues in Teacher Professional Development 23(1), 57–73. https://doi.org/10.15446/profile.v23n1.83135

Erten, O., & Savage, R. S. (2012). Moving forward in inclusive education research, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 16(2), 221–233. https://doi.org/ 10.1080/13603111003777496

Farrell, P., & Ainscow, M. (2002). Making special education inclusive: Mapping the issues. In P. Farrell & M. Ainscow (Eds.), Making special education inclusive (pp. 1–12). David Fulton.

Florian, L. (2009). Towards inclusive pedagogy. In P. Hick, R. Kershner, & P. Farrell (Eds.), Psychology for inclusive education: New directions in theory and practice (pp. 38–51). Routledge Falmer.

González, A. (2010). English and English teaching in Colombia: Tensions and possibilities in the expanding circle. In A. Kirkpatrick, (Ed), The Routledge Handbook of World Englishes (pp. 332–351). Routledge.

González, M. S., & Rodríguez, M. L. (1999). Lenguas Indígenas de Colombia. Instituto Caro y Cuervo.

Grech, S., & Soldatic, K. (Eds). (2016). Disability in the Global South: The critical handbook. Springer.

Hamnett, M., Porter, D., Singh, A., & Kumar, K. (1984). Ethics, politics, and international social science research: From critique to praxis. University of Hawaii Press.

Ilieva, R., & Waterstone, B. (2013). Curriculum discourses within a TESOL program for international students: Affording possibilities for academic and professional identities. Transnational Curriculum Inquiry 10(1), 16–37.

Kamenopoulou, L. (2018a). Inclusive education and disability in the Global South. Palgrave/Macmillan.

Kamenopoulou, L. (2018b). Inclusive education in the global south? A Colombian perspective: ‘When you look towards the past, you see children with disabilities, and if you look towards the future, what you see is diverse learners.’ Disability and the Global South, 5(1), 1192–1214.

Kamenopoulou, L., & Dukpa, D. (2018). Karma and human rights: Bhutanese teachers’ perspectives on inclusion and disability. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(3), 323–338. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2017.1365274

Kiuppis, F. (2014). Why (not) associate the principle of inclusion with disability? Tracing connections from the start of the ‘Salamanca Process’. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 18(7), 746–761.

Kormos, J., & Smith, A. M. (2012). Teaching languages to students with specific learning differences. Multilingual Matters.

Kubota, R. (2019). Confronting epistemological racism, decolonizing scholarly knowledge: Race and gender in applied linguistics. Applied Linguistics, 41(5), 1–22.

Kumaravadivelu, B. (2003). Beyond methods: Macrostrategies for language teaching. Yale University Press.

Ministerio de Educación [MEN]. (2008). Programa Educación Inclusiva con Calidad ‘Construyendo Capacidad institucional para la Atención a la Diversidad’. Convenio Ministerio de Educación Nacional - Tecnológico de Antioquia, Colombia [Inclusive education with quality programming: Building institutional capacity with attention to diversity. Agreement between Ministry of National Education - University of Technology of de Antioquia, Colombia] 2008. https://pebaibague.weebly.com/uploads/2/3/4/3/2343628/educacion_inclusiva.pdf

Ministerio de Educación Nacional [MEN]. (2022). Proyectos Etnoeducatives. https://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1621/w3-article-235111.html

Ministerio de Educación Nacional [MEN]. (1994, February 8). Ley General de Educación: Ley 115 [General law of education: Law 115]. https://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1621/articles-85906_archivo_pdf.pdf

Ministerio de Educación Nacional [MEN]. (2013). Lineamientos política de educación superior inclusiva [Higher inclusive education policy guidelines]. https://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1759/articles-357277_recurso.pdf

Moreno Angarita, M., & Gabel, S. L. (2008). Politics, inclusion and disabled children: The Colombian context. In S. L. Gabel & S. Danforth (Eds.), Disability and the politics of education: An international reader (pp. 225–236). Peter Lang.

OECD. (2016). Education in Colombia. OECD Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264250604-en

OCHA. (2017). Colombia humanitarian fund annual report. United Nations Humanitarian Country Team.


Pennycook, A., & Makoni, S. (2020). Innovations and challenges in applied linguistics from the Global South. Routledge.

Phan, L. H. (2017). Transnational education Crossing ‘Asia’ and ‘the West’: Adjusted desire, transformative mediocrity, and neo-colonial disguise. Routledge.

Phillipson, R. (1992). Linguistic imperialism. Oxford University Press.

Pijl, S. J., Meijer, C. J. W., & Hegarty S. (1994). Inclusive education: A global agenda. Routledge.

Rose, D. (2019). Foreword. In S. Bracken & K. Novak (Eds), Transforming higher education through universal design for learning (pp. xii–xx). Routledge.

Robayo Acuña, L. M., & Cárdenas, M. L. (2017). Inclusive education and ELT policies in Colombia: Views from some PROFILE journal authors. PROFILE Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 19(1), 121–136.

Roux, R. (2012). English language education policy in Colombia and Mexico. International perspectives on education. BCES conference book volume 10. ERIC ED567040.

Schuelka, M. (2015). The evolving construction and conceptualisation of ‘disability’ in Bhutan. Disability and Society, 30(6), 820–833.

Sharma, U., Folin, C., Deppler, J., & Guanxue, Y. (2013). Reforming teacher education for inclusion in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific Region. Asian Journal of Inclusive Education, 1(1), 3–16.

Stier, J. (2004). Taking a critical stance toward internationalization ideologies in higher education: Idealism, instrumentalism and educationalism. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 2(1), 1–28.

Tollefson, J. (1981). The role of language planning in second language acquisition. Language Learning 31(2), 337–348.

Tollefson, J. (1991). Planning language, planning inequality: Language policy in the community. Longman.

Trines, S. (2020). WENR: Education in Colombia. https://wenr.wes.org/2020/06/education-in-colombia-2

Usma Wilches, J. (2015). From transnational language policy transfer to local appropriation: The case of the Nation-al Bilingual Program in Medellín, Colombia. Deep University Press.

UNESCO. (1994). The Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education. Adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality.

United Nations Peacemaker. (2022). Agreement on the bilateral and definitive ceasefire and cessation of hostilities, and the law down of weapons between the national government and the FARC-EP. https://peacemaker.un.org/ceasefire-colombia-2016

Uribe, C., Murnane, R. J., Willett, J. B., & Somers, M. (2006). Expanding school enrolment by subsidizing private schools: Lessons from Bogota. Comparative Education Review, 50(2), 241–277.

Valencia, M. (2013). Language policy and the manufacturing of consent for foreign intervention in Colombia. Profile: Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development (15), 27–43.

Vásquez-Orjuela, D. (2015). Políticas de inclusión educativa: una comparación entre Colombia y Chile [Politics of inclusive education: A comparison between Colombia and Chile]. Educación y educadores 18(1), 45–61.

World Bank. (2022). Population, total - Colombia. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=CO

World Bank. (2021). Children out of school, primary - Colombia. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.UNER?end=2019&locations=CO&start=1982&view=chart

World Bank & International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. (2014). Towards sustainable peace, poverty eradication and shared prosperity.

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21037/ACS109000REVIS 0tes0text0120220140qr.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y.

World Health Organization, & World Bank. (2011). World report on disability. World Health Organization.