“From West to the Rest” (Grech 2011, 88) – this is what is being said in the context of inclusive education under a postcolonial perspective. Inclusive Education can be seen as a form of (‘western’) cultural imperialism is being said elsewhere (Haskell 1998). And yes, by looking behind the curtain of the globally understood concept of inclusive education it becomes clear that all that glitters is not gold. Furthermore, that the concept of inclusive education has emerged from reforms and experiences made in and by the global North (Werning et al. 2016). There is no universal understanding of inclusive education because conceptions on disability (Singal 2013) or inclusion (Booth 1995) vary from context to context. Nevertheless, the ‘western’ concept is (still) dominating the global discourse and sees itself transferred to numerous countries, which have made quite different experiences regarding (inclusive) education. It is questionable whether this is fair and sustainable.

Inclusive Education – a concept, that should under a normative perspective – be striving for Education for All. That should be leaving no one behind. Nevertheless, against the background of Agenda 2030 or the UN- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the concept contains a problematic potential. Keeping a postcolonial theory perspective one can speak of epistemic violence (Brunner 2020) or simply knowledge inequity that is leading to a widened gap of inequities at various levels. Therefore, it is indispensable to critically examine the concept of inclusive education on the use on the one side and the need on the other side to be able to ensure equity against the background of social justice.

However, what does this have to do with Open Science? If one may think of research (e.g., on inclusive education) in a context that is asymmetrically designed and embedded in power dynamics, e.g., in Sub-Saharan Africa, one has to get to the question of justice. How can one try to critically reflect on the dominant North-South divide, especially thinking of knowledge inequity and its resulting side effects that in turn is leading again to the reproduction and stabilization of knowledge inequity? How can one question knowledge inequity and social justice within their research? Finally, how can one create an impact on this imbalance? The answer seems to be short and easy: the idea of Open Science is giving one the framework and tools to tackle all these questions. That’s it.

That’s it? Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are lacking possibilities for an Education for All (UNESCO. EFA) and still lots of children with disabilities do not participate in school life. What they simply need is inclusive education, right? If this is considered true, first one has to examine the contextual needs but should never forget against which background a need is defined, to second adapt the concept of inclusive education to them. Although the answer to all of these questions regarding knowledge inequity in asymmetrically designed contexts seems to be short and easy – Open Science, that’s it – it is similar to the context of inclusive education. Not all that glitters is gold. At first one has to examine the contextual needs – let’s rather talk about identifying asymmetrically created inequity-reinforcing dynamics between researcher and researched to step back from the donor and recipient image, which cannot be compatible against the background of inclusive and sustainable development – in order to subsequently be able to use the idea of Open Science in a connectable and profitable way for those who are left behind. Still sounds easy in theory, but is a tough challenge in practice due to multidimensional, historical established power dynamics. So, is Open Science automatically leading to Knowledge Equity? No. Neither the idea itself of Open Science as a panacea for those who are left behind or who are excluded, nor the concept of inclusive education.

What matters the most is that one comprehends the interconnectivity between South and North leading to an understanding of what is going wrong looking at those unfair interconnectivities. Coming back to inclusive education in Sub-Saharan Africa for example, one has to look at the dominating discourse: Who is, why, and how navigating through the Inclusive Education discourse? How are asymmetrical dynamics and structures being perpetuated? What is meant to be fair or unfair? What can be done to address these issues? It becomes clear that above classical skills of Open Science – Open Data, OER, Open Access, and so on – the idea should draw more from the potential to address social justice in order to trigger social and international change. It is about accessible and fair education, so Sub-Saharan countries are provided connectable, equal opportunities. It is about sharing knowledge and perspectives on certain supposedly universal issues like inclusive education, so Sub-Saharan countries are getting the opportunity to react and enriching discourses with their (alternative) knowledge. It is about connecting and empowering each other, so everyone has the opportunity to tap into their full potential. Ultimately, it is about doing inclusive scientific research that takes into account – who is, why, and how left behind, in order to adapt the research accordingly and contribute to social, equitable change.


BOOTH, T. (1995): Mapping inclusion and exclusion: Concepts for All? In: C. Clark, A. Dyson & A. Millward (Eds.) Towards Inclusive Schools? (pp. 96-108). London: David Fulton.

BRUNNER, C. (2020): Epistemische Gewalt. Wissen und Herrschaft in der kolonialen Moderne. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag.  http://dx.doi.org/10.14361/9783839451311-004

GRECH, Sh. (2011): Recolonising debates or perpetuated coloniality? Decentring the spaces of disability, development and community in the global South, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(1), (pp. 87-100). http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2010.496198

HASKELL, S. H. (1998): Inclusive Schooling: The contemporary cultural imperialism of western ideologies. Paper presented to the Second International Exhibition and Congress on Rehabilitation, 29-31 March 1998, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

SINGAL, N. (2013): Disability, poverty and education. London: Routledge.

UNESCO (2015): Education for All 2000-2015: achievements and challenges; EFA global monitoring report. Last access: 17.05.2021 https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000232205

WERNING, R. et al. (2016): Introduction. In: Dies. (Hg.): Keeping the promise? Contextualizing Inclusive Education in Developing Countries. Bad Heilbrunn: Verlag Julius Klinkhardt.

Cite as

Kruschick, Felicitas. “Leaving No One Behind – On the Intersection of Open Science, Knowledge (In-)Equity and Inclusive Education in the North-South Divide.” Generation Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.25815/ARMZ-AM02.

Video: Barcamp Open Science 2021 Ignition Talk

Ignition Talk by Felicitas Kruschick (@felicitaskru)
Inclusive Education: ‚From west to the Rest‘ (Grech 2011, 88) – about the need of getting aware of Knowledge (In-)Equality & Open Science, 16 February 2021.

Article image: Wikicommons CC 0 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hands-600497_1920.jpg