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According to Verma & Bagley, “Equality has long been a major goal of education around the world. As early as 1948, Article 26 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “everyone has the right to education” and “education shall be free, at least at the elementary and fundamental stages” (2007, p. 3). In relation to this statement, most governments who are members of the United Nation have made substantial efforts geared towards the realization of this Universal Declaration of Human rights.
In inclusive education programs all students in a school are subjected to study together and become part of the school community regardless they are disabled or normal (Schwartz, Odom, & Sandall, 2010).
They all attend the same school and have the feeling of belonging in the school. Students, teachers and co-ordinate staff have a role to instruct all students regardless to their disability in general education. From educational viewpoint, inclusion involves practices where students with special needs in terms of education spend much of their time with normal student in the learning process.
It is believed that inclusive education poses more merits than its negatives effects to educational systems since it provides a better opportunity for all students to participate in all activities in their everyday learning process. Inclusive education has been a platform for the disabled students to create a unique and better relationship with other normal students in school communities. Additionally, inclusive education serves as a fundamental right to all disabled students since they are part of the society and thus they should not be ignored (Schwartz, Odom, & Sandall, 2010).
While there are a number of controversies in the subject of inclusive education, a clear understanding is required about inclusive education so as to reap maximally from the benefits it presents.
The current research seems to support inclusive education and co-teaching as means of improving both special and general education in the schools (Block, n. d). Mainstreaming which is typical to inclusive education has been observed to improve students’ social skills by fostering interaction between the disabled students with other normal students in the same or neighboring schools (Block, n.
d). This has developed communication and interaction skills among the normal and disabled students thus making them to be competent in the society. In particular, the increased interaction among students in inclusive education develops them to relate well with other members of the society. Social dimension is measured in terms of behavior and character of an individual in connection with the capacity to exercise them. Communication forms the basis of character and behavior of individuals. Therefore, inclusive education builds individuals who perfectly fit into the society (Block, n. d).
Higher self-esteem among disabled students has also been achieved in the process of mainstreaming typical in inclusive educational system (PBSparents, 2010). Students gain more confidence and self efficiency in inclusive education hence they command a higher self-esteem. Not only do students in inclusive education gain higher states of confidence, they also gain systematic ways to approach common aspects in life. Research conducted in California on disabled students showed that 96 percent of disabled students felt confident when mixed with other students during learning process (PBSparents, 2010).
However, 3 percent of these students felt excluded while a lesser percentage of 1 percent felt low even when mixed with other normal students (PBSparents, 2010). This research shows that inclusive education builds high esteem among the disabled students and hence should be encouraged (PBSparents, 2010). Enhanced academic achievements among the disabled students form another great advantage of inclusive education. Through the integration of normal students and the disabled, there is a potential realization of academic achievements among the disabled students who are a minor group in the society (PBSparents, 2010).
The relationship between the teachers and students is much coherent in inclusive education and thus creates smooth means for academic achievements among this minor group. Most teachers take keen interest to the disabled students in order to put them in the same level with the rest of other in the class. Students gain both academic knowledge and applied abilities that are critical in their lives. As a result of inclusive education, there have been increasing numbers of disabled graduates in the US and elsewhere in the world (PBSparents, 2010).
In inclusive education, there is an enhanced parents’ participation in the provision of education to the students (PBSparents, 2010). This enhanced participation ensures that students are provided with better education hence better academic achievements on the part of students. This is achieved through moral and material support that parents invest in the students which lead to improvement in education quality in inclusive education. The learning objectives are well met in inclusive education as parents commit their efforts in the betterment of education (PBSparents, 2010).
As a result, there is an improved relationship in inclusive education compared to exclusive education system where parents rely entirely on teachers and the school management on education responsibilities for their children (PBSparents, 2010). Normal students in inclusive education learn to appreciate other disabled students hence fostering better relationships not only in the school community but also at their homes and the society at large (Ratta, 2009). Inclusive education brings out the meaning of the theoretical knowledge taught in schools into practice.
The majority of the learners in other education systems that do not mix normal students with disabled students leave schools with limited knowledge thus making it hard for them to cope up with life (Inclusive Schools Network, 2010). It is believed that when the normal students learn in the same environment with the disabled students, much understanding and tolerance is cultivated . the normal students learn to accept others in their capacity regardless to their health (Ratta, 2009).
Positive aspects achieved from inclusive education contribute much to contact theory which asserts that meaningful, frequent and pleasant communication between and among people results to a better and changed attitude towards differences. As result much is felt in the society of different individuals. On the same note, inclusive education prepares the disabled students to plan on their future (PBSparents, 2010). The lessons they achieve in inclusive educational programs while in schools are crucial in preparing them for future career and general tactics of survival.
In inclusive institutions of learning, teachers impart knowledge to learners. This knowledge usually consists of theory as well as practical skills. This ways, students become more flexible in life and have some ways to survive. Life is much of what one knows and gets experienced to do (PBSparents, 2010). Therefore, there is always an increasing need for inclusive education that combines both the disabled and non-disabled students. More so, inclusive education helps disabled student to develop a sense of pride in their learning due to accomplishing their duties in the process of learning.
For instance, under normal class environment with various students (normal and disabled), given an assignment to do will increase the pride of disabled learners if accomplished in time and accurately (PBSparents, 2010). This is clear indication that learning inclusively improves the ability of the students in general.
There is a credible evidence to suggest that educational investment on an individual not only benefit the individual personally; in terms of their earnings, but the society as a whole in both economic and social areas ( Verma, & Bagley, 2007). Inclusion is a philosophy that focuses on the process of adjusting the home, school and the larger society to accommodate persons with diverse needs. All individuals regardless of their differences are accorded the opportunity to interact, play, learn, work and experience the feeling of belonging.
Besides, they are also allowed to develop in accordance with their potential and abilities. Inclusion therefore, calls for various persons to be fully involved in all aspects of life which include: education, employment, access to information, decision making process, community and domestic activities, recreational and social activities, and access to consumer goods and services such as electricity and clean water supply (Hegarty, 1993).
Inclusion is about the following: welcoming diversity, benefiting all (learners) with or without special needs, children in or out of school who may feel excluded, providing equal access to education to all learners, continuous search to finding better ways of responding to diversity, identification and removal of barriers to education, stimulating creativity and problem solving by all, learners who risk marginalization, exclusion and/or underachievement of all learners, reforming schools and other institutions to ensure that every child receives quality and appropriate education within these schools, and having a positive mind set and start seeing the possibilities rather than impossibilities, and finally it is about improving learning environment and providing opportunities for all learners to become successful in their learning experiences (Hegarty, 1993). Inclusive education is a philosophy that ensures that, schools, centres of learning and other educational settings and systems are open to all children. This enables the learners to be included in all aspects of school-life. According to UNESCO (2001), Inclusive Education takes the Education For All agenda foreword. This is done by finding the ways of enabling schools to serve all learners in their communities as part of an Inclusive Education.
Therefore, an inclusive school includes learners with various diversities and differentiates educational experiences to cater for the various diversities (UNESCO, 2001). The benefits of Inclusive Education include, all learners learn and grow in the environment that they will eventually live and work. As participation of those who are “different” takes root, all learners and teachers gain the virtues of being accommodating, accepting, patient and co-operative. Other children gain some valuable virtues such as being considerate, patient and humble as they support their peers with special needs. It should also be remembered that some children with special needs are as well gifted and therefore other children or learners can as well benefit form them thus, it is not only the other way round.
Besides, Inclusive Education offers to the teachers, an opportunity to share ideas and knowledge with each other, parent, and significant others, thus making education a meaningful aspect of everyday life. The also develop their skills and abilities when working as a team to address the challenges. This may also boost their status in the community. In addition, Inclusive Education creates a school for all, where everybody benefits resulting to an inclusive society. Further, the self-esteem of children who have special needs in education is improved. Inclusive Education is cost effective and gives equal opportunities to all children, thus promoting the right to all to education.
Some of the concerns from the educators about barrier to inclusion frequently include: the school factors which include classroom factors like poor classroom arrangement, student factors like negative attitudes of learner with or without special needs towards each other, teacher factor which might range from negative attitude towards learners with special needs to inadequate training on various aspects of Inclusive Education. According to Loreman, Deppeler & Harvey, “Secondary teachers in Victoria, Australia, were found to lack the skills required to modify curriculum for children with diverse abilities and were reported to be in urgent need of training in this area in a study conducted by Grbich and Sykes. ” (2005, p. 6).
Not only does inclusive education provide the best to both normal and disabled students but also constitutes of a number of disadvantages (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010).
One of the most debated disadvantages of inclusive education is financial hardships. In order for the school to provide for special education system and services, much financial resources are needed to properly finance the system. The cost per student under special education is much higher compared to normal student thus giving a challenge to most schools. The more special students a school has, the more expenditure needed to run the school (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). This has caused more problems in inclusive education system.
Parents and guardians have often expressed fears that in inclusive education system, teachers do not have the required skills to teach and accommodate the disabled learners (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). However, supportive and training institutions usually train the teachers on both normal and special needs of students so as to address problems in case they arise. But if the teacher ignores the students of this nature it may result to regression of the learner thus the overall productivity is decreased in terms of academics.
More so, the learners them selves may cause harm to the fellow students thus making classroom environment uncomfortable for learning process (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). One serious and potential disadvantages of inclusive education is that of the amount of time and the kind of attention drawn by the teachers to students with special needs (Kidstogether. org, 2010). Significant observations have shown that there is an increased attention to students with special needs which may take away the attention of the teachers from the rest of the class.
This trend can eventually lead to a decreased concentration on the part of normal students hence less achievement academically (Kidstogether. org, 2010). In another observation, due to frequent disturbances in inclusive education, there may be a fall in academic performance (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). In most cases, it’s believed that learners with disabilities can cause unnecessary locomotion in learning environment making it tireless exercise. Teachers may lack positive and dynamic response to the students due to lack of special skills to handle such learners in classroom environment.
This is much contributed by personal view towards the disabled people. Lack of official liaison required by the teacher can also interrupt the usual understanding of the learner in this perspective (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). Improper articulation between the co-teachers also contributes to students in taking, no matter their abnormality. Another major issue is social discrimination among the teachers and students. This will cause serious problems not only in the school environment but also in the community level.
Regular education students may so much empowered to do anything to disabled individuals this resulting to inferiority complex among the students. This can be avoided by having a joint socialization in the school which may extend further to the outside communities (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). Studies have shown that students with special needs may require more time to grasp concepts (Kidstogether. org, 2010). Time spent in reviewing concepts may not be enough for students with special needs who learn at a slower pace.
Normal students who need to move at a fast pace may end up getting bored and if this weakness is not checked, it will dangerously lead to poor academic performance among normal students in inclusive education. This is because inclusive education system overlooks the needs and requirements of the both normal and disabled students (Schwartz, Billingsley & McBride, 2010). The rise in implementations and modifications usually articulated in regular education systems that practice inclusion has caused disconnection between teaching and the learning process (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010).
This has mainly affected special need students in these systems which practice inclusion. When rules are further implemented, it becomes hard for disabled students to adhere to and incase no adjustments are made, this can ultimately affect the standards of learning among the special need students. The results may be dwarfism in education either in terms of skills or knowledge or both (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010).
Most researchers have given out different views concerning the idea on inclusive education system where other have observed that the system is so much demanding to school administration and the community at large (National Center for Education Statistics, 2010). Other researchers have observed an increase in school closure in the systems that embrace inclusion. This presents as one of the challenges of inclusive education system which has lately been perceived to be difficult to manage and run making many schools to shut down and students’ school dropouts (Delma, Selina & Dorothy, 2009).
A significant amount of resources is dedicated to field work and mainstreaming where normal students benefit more compared to rest of the disabled students. This presents a serious inequality in per student spending where resources are spent for functions that do not benefit the students with special needs (Kitmitto & Bandeira, 2008). However, this point has been argued by a number of observers who note that special needs students also require facilities and equipments not required by normal students. This observation seems to cancel out the point that more funds are spent on normal students.
This controversy has resulted to the formation of ripples in a legal system of education (Kitmitto & Bandeira, 2008). More serious problem is when some groups believes that some students are not worth to be put in regular classroom to study thus resulting to streaming in school communities. Conclusion In conclusion, inclusive education system is slowly becoming forgotten in most schools despite its importance among both normal and disabled students. It has many several benefits as opposed to other educational system which do not combine disabled students with the normal ones.
It should be identified that the ability of the disabled students to socialize with their fellow students to a large extent build their confidence as the student feel to be part of the school community. Attempts to prevent the students to access inclusive education prevent the students from a number of benefits that would otherwise mold them to become successful leaders. Therefore, parents, teacher and all school stakeholders need to adjust in order to accommodate both disabled and normal students in the same learning environment bearing in mind that they are all part of the community.
Curriculum factor which, often, is mostly rigid and some teachers lack the ability or knowhow to modify it; therefore, do not take into consideration the needs of the diverse learners. There are sub- standard government schools, negative attitude on the part of policy makers towards education of children with special needs, special education is at times planned on disability levels rather than on ability levels, there is a correlation between disability and extreme poverty levels (Hegarty & Alur, 2002). The other major concern is the support services and resource factors. Learners with special needs require basic support servicers for learning to be effective in an inclusive setting which are usually lacking in most inclusive setting.
Examples of support services that can be made available to these learners include the following: resource rooms which should be adequately resourced, itinerant services, provision of educational resources relevant to their needs, parental support is also very paramount, technical support such as sign language interpreters and Braille transcribers, teacher-aides, peer support, physiotherapy, guidance and counselling, occupational therapies, community support and finally, provision of required equipment ( Daniels & Garner, 1999). “One of the major stumbling blocks to inclusion lies in the financial arrangement currently in place. Funding arrangements do not encourage inclusion, and the problem is not unique to England and Wales. The situation is similar in USA” ( Daniels & Garner 1999 p. 70). Collaboration and community involvement is very important. Lack of the same often hinders the process of inclusion. Collaboration and community involvement can be done through parental involvement, community involvement, partnership and networking, school management involvement, interactive relationships among the various stakeholders and home based programmes (Hornby, 1995).
Some of the best practices that might alleviate the challenges faced in the practice of Inclusive Education may be adopted from the principles of Inclusive Education. These are principles that govern the practice of Inclusive Education. It calls for equalization of opportunities for all learners to experience normal mainstream activities, while making deliberate and appropriate measures to ensure quality education for all. Besides, Inclusive Education calls for a child centred curriculum and the learner to attend the school that he would naturally go to in his community if he had no special needs. In addition, it advocates for accessibility to the learning process and curriculum by all learners by differentiating the learning and assessment process according to the learner’s needs (Mitchell, 2007).
Furthermore, Inclusive Education addresses the needs of all learners with visible or invisible learning difficulties such as visual, hearing, physical, intellectual, communication, emotional and behavioural, bereavement from HIV and AIDs, child abuse, poverty, racism, malnourishment, emotional effects of war, divorce, family separation and living on streets. It also recognises and caters for individual differences in race, religion, abilities, disabilities or circumstances are not seen as challenges but as resources. Inclusive Education also plans for positive learning opportunities with support to learners with special needs as an integral part of the ordinary school.
Even further, Inclusive Education requires change of negative attitude, negative behaviours, teaching methodologies, curricula, and environments to meet the needs of all learners, hence overcoming barriers to learning and development and finally, Inclusive Education calls on special needs education service providers to work closely with others within the community such as health and social worker emphasizing prevention and early intervention strategies to minimize the occurrence and the impact of disabilities in the community. Conclusion In Inclusive Education, we endeavour to provide a comprehensive educational plan that modifies the mainstream curriculum to give maximum opportunity to children with special needs, children who are marginalised, and children who are vulnerable as well as those who are neglected; in order for them to become productive members of the society.
Developing positive attitude in parents, teachers, peers and the community at large towards the various categories of children with special needs (Mitchell, 2007). Providing equal opportunities to all children to share knowledge, resources and experiences. Suggesting approaches and teaching methodologies to accommodate all children in regular classes regardless of their diversities or disabilities. Developing and implementing a curriculum that is all inclusive or flexible and accessible. Reaching the unreached children and youths within the regular education. Facilitating inclusion of children in all aspects of life. Identifying and minimizing if not eradicating all barriers to learning and development, and finally, minimizing the effects of disabilities on the child (Smith, 1998).
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