Annex A. The OECD Strength through Diversity project 

The OECD Strength through Diversity: Education for Inclusive Societies project is designed to respond to the increasing diversity that characterises education systems and the growing interest in designing and implementing inclusive educational policies at national and international levels. The two overarching policy questions for the project are: (1) How can education systems support the learning and well-being outcomes of diverse populations and be more inclusive? (2) How can education systems support all individuals so that they are able to engage with others in increasingly diverse and complex societies? To answer these questions, the project has developed a comprehensive analytical framework (Cerna et al., 2021[1]).

The project differentiates between equity and inclusion in education, while recognising that those are intimately related concepts. Equitable education systems are those that ensure the achievement of educational potential is not the result of personal and social circumstances, including factors such as gender, ethnic origin, immigrant status, special education needs and giftedness. This assumes the role of education systems in achieving equity is to provide equality of opportunities so each individual reaches his/her education potential. Inclusive education, while being closely linked to equity, aims to strengthen the capacity of school systems to reach out to all students by responding to the diversity of their needs and ultimately guaranteeing self-worth and a sense of belonging. It means that education systems must be able to implement mechanisms that foster a proper environment for the well-being of these students, an environment that allows them to express their full potential. It should make them feel safe, achieve the best performance possible and, when applicable, feel in accordance with their own cultural values and representations while being enrolled in mainstream schools. It is the role of policy makers and educators to address these challenges together, guaranteeing the educational achievement of all while strengthening intercultural understanding and social justice. 

The project focuses on six dimensions of diversity: migration-induced diversity; ethnic groups, national minorities and Indigenous peoples; special education needs; gender; gender identity and sexual orientation; and giftedness, as well as two overarching factors: socio-economic background and geographical location. It also analyses the intersections between the different dimensions of diversity. This comprehensive framework corresponds to a holistic approach that aims to provide analysis and policy advice on how to achieve equity and inclusion in education. 

To this end, the project conducts research and provides recommendations on five key policy areas: 1) governance, 2) resourcing, 3) capacity building, 4) school-level interventions and 5) monitoring and evaluation.  

The project seeks to make the most of the OECD’s greatest strengths – providing a setting where governments can compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, and identify and share good practices. Participating countries prepare a detailed background report and can also opt for a detailed individual review by a team of international experts. The project brings together lessons from all countries in a series of thematic Policy Fora and Meetings of Country Representatives. More information about these events can be found on the project website ( Portugal is actively participating in the project and has opted for a country review of inclusive education. The country review aims at supporting the Portuguese authorities in identifying ways to improve the inclusiveness of the education system. 

Following the analytical framework developed by the project, this review examines the five policy areas mentioned above: governance, resourcing, capacity building, school-level interventions, and monitoring and evaluations. The report is structured to highlight all these policy areas which are closely interlinked. Governance and resources are combined in Chapter 2, Capacity building is examined in Chapter 3, and Chapter 4 analyses school-level interventions. Monitoring and evaluation are addressed across Chapter 2-4.  

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