UNESCO’s (1994) stance that “The fundamental principle of inclusive schooling is that all children should learn together whenever possible regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have” is valid and entirely subjective. However, the principle aim of this paper is to discuss this quotation in support for inclusive education.
Inclusion education is the practice, in which students with special educational needs spend most or all of their time with non-disabled students. Implementation of this practice varies; schools can use it for selected students with mild to severe special needs. Description: Inclusive education differs from previously held notions of ‘integration’ and ‘mainstreaming’, which tended to be concerned principally with disability and ‘special educational needs’ and implied learners changing or becoming ‘ready for’ accommodation by the mainstream. By contrast, inclusion is about the child’s right to participate and the school’s duty to accept the child. Inclusion rejects the use of special schools or classrooms to separate students with disabilities from students without disabilities. A premium is placed upon full participation by students with disabilities and upon respect for their social, civil, and educational rights. Inclusive education should be encouraged because it gives opportunity to learners from the different backgrounds to interact, accept and learn from each other.
Inclusive education is important because Inclusive schools would no longer distinguish between “general education” and “special education” programs; instead, the school would be restructured so that all students learn together, pass through similar and the same kind of experience and have the audacity to focus on developing their nations together in every way.
The other importance of inclusive education is that there would be maximum participation of all learners in the community schools of their choice, make learning more meaningful and relevant for all, particularly those learners most vulnerable to exclusionary pressures, and to rethink and restructure policies, curricula, cultures and practices in schools and learning environments so that diverse learning needs can be met, whatever the origin or nature of those needs.
Cortiella (2009) indicates that inclusive education is very important as it provides opportunity to all students learn together. She says all students can learn and benefit from education. Schools can easily adapt to the needs of students, rather than students adapting to the needs of the school. Individual differences between students are a source of richness and diversity, and not a problem. The diversity of needs and pace of development of students are addressed through a wide and flexible range of responses (so long as those responses do not include removing a student with a disability from a general education classroom).
Therefore, she defines inclusive education as the process of removing barriers and enabling all students, including previously excluded groups, to learn and participate effectively within general school systems.
Thomas and Loxley (2007)indicate that Inclusion has just two sub-types: the first is sometimes called regular inclusion or partial inclusion, and the other is full inclusion. In a “partial inclusion” setting, students with special needs are educated in regular classes for nearly all of the day, or at least for more than half of the day. Whenever possible, the students receive any additional help or special instruction in the general classroom. Most specialized services are provided outside a regular classroom, particularly if these services require special equipment or might be disruptive to the rest of the class (such as speech therapy), and students are pulled out for these services. In this case, the student occasionally leaves the regular classroom to attend smaller, more intensive instructional sessions in a resource room, or to receive other related services, such as speech and language therapy, occupational and/or physical therapy, and social work. This approach can be very similar to many mainstreaming practices.
It is necessary that all children should learn together whenever possible regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have as a way of providing them with equal access to facilities and diversity in learning. Inclusion takes disengaged students, as well as some students with special needs, out of class confinement and put into an alternative cross-age peer group to develop strong relationships and enable them to better cope with general education classes. All students in Full inclusive education are in a complete integration with each other and all student with a special need into the general education classroom. The student receives all special services in the same general education classroom as all other students. This is very common with students whose needs are easily met in a classroom, such as a modification that allows the student more time to complete written assignments. Schools that practice full inclusion for all students have no separate special education classes. However, full inclusion of all students, regardless of their particular needs, is a controversial practice, and it is not widely applied. It is more common for local educational agencies to provide a variety of settings, from special classrooms to mainstreaming to inclusion, and to assign students to the system that seems most likely to help the student achieve his or her individual educational goals.
Although the argument that all children should learn together whenever possible regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have sounds fair enough, it is very difficult to successfully address the needs of all children with disabilities because students with disabilities who are not included are typically either mainstreamed or segregated based on the extent of the problem under consideration. A mainstreamed student attends some general education classes, typically for less than half the day, and often for less rigorous classes. For example, a young student with significant intellectual disabilities might be mainstreamed for physical education classes, art classes and storybook time, but spend reading and mathematics classes with other students that have similar disabilities. For such students, it would be extremely difficult to ascertain that they can learn together with other abled children with full senses. A segregated student attends no classes with non-disabled students. He or she might attend a special school that only enrolls other students with disabilities, or might be placed in a dedicated, self-contained classroom in a school that also enrolls general education students. Some students may be confined to a hospital due to a medical condition and are thus eligible for tutoring services provided by a school district. While inclusive education is good for may reasons, it has its own advantages and disadvantages.
While its important that all children should learn together whenever possible regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have, this may be determined by many factors. The proportion of students with disabilities who are included varies by place and by type of disability, but it is relatively common for students with milder disabilities and less common with certain kinds of severe disabilities. In most universities in Zambia, students with learning disabilities are placed in general education classrooms full-time without properly considering other implications that might emanate out of this inclusion.
Stainback, and Stainback (1995) indicate that although inclusive education is hailed as a way to increase achievement while decreasing costs, full inclusion does not save money, reduce students’ needs, or improve academic outcomes; in most cases, it merely moves the special education professionals out of their own classrooms and into a corner of the general classroom. To avoid harm to the academic education of students with disabilities, a full panoply of services and resources is required, including: Adequate supports and services for the students, professional development for all teachers involved, general and special educators alike, time for teachers to plan, meet, create, and evaluate the students together, reduced class size based on the severity of the student needs, Professional skill development in the areas of cooperative learning, peer tutoring, adaptive curriculum, Collaboration between parents, teachers and administrators and Sufficient funding so that schools will be able to develop programs for students based on student need instead of the availability of funding (Gillies, 2004).
Jorgensen, Schuh, Nisbet Scheyer et al. (1996) alkso indicates that in principle, several factors can determine the success of inclusive classrooms and these include: Family-school partnerships, Collaboration between general and special educators, Well-constructed plans that identify specific accommodations, modifications, and goals for each student, Coordinated planning and communication between “general” and “special needs” staff, Integrated service delivery, Ongoing training and staff development
Critics of inclusive education or full and partial inclusion include both educators, administrators and parents. Full and partial inclusion approaches neglect to acknowledge the fact most students with significant special needs require individualized instruction or highly controlled environments. Thus, general education classroom teachers often are teaching a curriculum while the special education teacher is remediating instruction at the same time. Similarly, a child with serious inattention problems may be unable to focus in a classroom that contains twenty or more active children. Although with the increase of incidence of disabilities in the student population, this is a circumstance all teachers must contend with, and is not a direct result of inclusion as a concept. Full inclusion may in fact be a way for schools to placate parents and the general public, using the word as a phrase to garner attention for what are in fact illusive efforts to education students with special needs in the general education environment.
It can be concluded that while the concept of having all children learning together whenever possible regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have is important for many reasons as discussed in the paper, it has many challenges as well. It is clear that children together can have equal access to the facilities as provided in the classroom and learn from each other in a certain way. However, it was pointed out that inclusive education would be more meaningful if the schools provide the needs of the learners rather than the learners meeting the needs of the schools.
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