8 julio, 2024

7 Barriers to Learning and Participation

The barriers to learning and participation They are all those stumbling blocks and difficulties that students have to learn concepts, integrate into the educational community and be able to participate and interact inside and outside of it.

These barriers can be of all kinds: social, cultural, material, attitudinal, etc., and arise from the circumstances and social and economic problems that affect the lives of individuals.

Therefore, they extend to the school context, presenting problems or «disabilities» in the interaction between students, with teachers and institutions, even extending further, to social contexts.

It is then understood that the barriers to learning and participation transcend the merely educational sphere, which is why they also touch and affect teachers, administrative staff, the family and the State.

The concept was introduced in 2002 by Tony Booth and Mel Ainscow, as a subject of study within the so-called inclusive education, which aims to take into account the learning needs of the most vulnerable.

In order to overcome these barriers, an evaluation by the educational center is necessary and essential, as well as creating coherent inclusive policies that facilitate the processes, grant a sufficient budget and do due follow-up on the practices, in order to constantly improve and eliminate these pitfalls.

inclusive education

To understand and apply the term of inclusive education, it is necessary to assimilate and admit that each individual is particular and unique. In addition to this, take into account the social and economic environment (the context), which has a very important influence, so the latter has to be taken into account when putting pedagogical strategies into practice.

For example, a school in a middle-class area of ​​a city cannot implement the same strategies as a rural school whose students are from a low social stratum and whose parents are likely to be poorly educated.

In general, contextual factors must be considered first, but then social, individual and personal factors must also be assessed to determine the different types of barriers.

Main barriers to participation and learning

1- Methodological and practical barriers

They are directly related to the teaching work, they are all the adjustments, planning, implementation, use of resources, strategies, organization that the teacher must carry out so that all students learn considering their characteristics and conditions. If the teacher does not carry it out, then it is a methodological or practice barrier.

2- Socioeconomic barriers

Here the economic level comes into play, the material deficiencies that the student may have. For example, not having enough money to buy teaching materials, to buy a uniform, and even to be able to eat properly.

Other socioeconomic factors that can establish barriers can be the distance between the home and the educational center, which involves the difficulty to move, the need to get up early or take a long time to return, the fatigue that this implies, etc.

Also take into account the difficulty in developing activities outside the classroom: access to libraries, internet access, the possibility of meeting to do group work, to research various sources, etc.

3- Attitudinal barriers

A series of perverse practices can be included in this area, widely disseminated in recent years and which do not discriminate against socioeconomic or geographical level.

It is about rejection, segregation and exclusion. We are talking about the so popular “bullying”, a term in English that has spread as much as its own practice.

In all school communities there has been a natural segregation at any time in history, carried out among the students themselves and even due to wrong practices and prejudices on the part of the teachers.

Thus, it has been seen at different times, segregation by race, by economic status, by physical appearance, by different types of characters or attitudes, or by greater or lesser intellectual qualities or abilities to learn.

But this ancient problem has become chronic, endemic, and increasingly cruel and difficult to eradicate.

4- Infrastructure Barriers

Many times educational buildings do not have the ideal conditions to facilitate learning and inclusion.

It can be mentioned from deteriorated buildings, with poor lighting or poor hygiene conditions, to the lack of necessary conditions to facilitate access for students with disabilities or special needs.

One can also mention the scarcity of materials for research and experimentation and the geographical problems for access to the site (remoteness, poor communication routes, deficient, expensive or scarce means of transport, etc.).

5- Practical barriers

These barriers and the responsibility to overcome them correspond more to the educational system and it is, perhaps, where the greatest emphasis and study have been placed to combat them.

It has to do with the design of curricular programs that are versatile, flexible and adaptable to each school community and even to each individual in particular; methodological practices that enhance the capacities of students, school curricular modernization, administrative and evaluation changes, etc.

6- Communication barriers

Within these barriers we can mention the quality of communication between students and teachers: speaking in understandable language, being assertive, motivating and empathetic with the student.

It also has to do with the amount of communication: having time for everyone and giving each one what they need, since it is not the same for everyone. Adapt the content to each case, advance at a pertinent pace, etc.

They are also related to the needs of the students, from communication in an indigenous language if it is the one the student speaks, knowing Mexican Sign Language if the student is deaf, knowing and communicating in Braille if the student is blind, knowing make and implement Communication Boards if the student has a condition that prevents him or her from communicating orally or through sign language…

7- Sociocultural barriers

It is well known that education goes beyond the walls of the classroom and must be an interdisciplinary work between the school, the family and the State.

In this case, the barriers come in many forms, such as the difficulty of the family to participate and help the student in learning, due to lack of time, eroded family relationships or lack of motivation. There may also be language barriers (foreigners, indigenous people, etc.).

On the other hand, the scarce or in some cases non-existent State policies could also be included to facilitate learning, bring poles closer and bridge social and cultural gaps in society.


Miguel Lopez Melero. Barriers that prevent inclusive school. Some strategies to build a school without exclusions. Recovered from ciequilmes.com.
Bertha Esperanza Monroy Martin (2015). Universal design of learning. Recovered from tecnoayudas.com.
Inclusive education. Retrieved from es.wikipedia.org.
Inclusive education. Equal in diversity. Retrieved from ite.educacion.es.
Contextualize to transform education. Retrieved from contextualizarparaintervenir.blogspot.com.ar.
Special Education Glossary. Retrieved from educacionspecial.sep.gob.mx.

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