A large number of children are being deprived of their right to study. Education is important to be able to build a better nation. However there are some cases wherein children are being banned from going to school because of their disability. Issues are arising and they need to be answered. Inequalities, especially in education, are not acceptable. This paper is about the strengths and weaknesses of inclusion and integration policies and support for children with special educational needs. To fully understand the subject it is best to define the issues and concepts involved. A review on research and studies done on education for special children will be presented. In the article written by Anastasia Vlachou (2008) she shows awareness on teachers to change their view regarding inclusion. Integration has been reported that requires change, creates discomfort and involves a considerable challenge to those whose careers, work and social relationships reinforce a segregated system. According to Vlachou (2008), “it would be naAve to believe that integration policy will happen as part of a natural evolution in attitudes towards students with special needs.’ Vlachou (2008) article will be discussed in the literature review together with the study done by several researchers. At the end of the paper the personal view of the writer regarding the subject will be presented. The inequalities and issues will be summarized to support the writers claim in the conclusion.
To fully understand what the topic is, it is best to define the important terms used in the paper. Inclusion as defined in the Webster dictionary – “to put in or consider as part of a group or category”. McBrien and Brandt of Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development define inclusion as based on the situation of the disabled child in school. The practice of educating children in one classroom, including children with physical, mental, and developmental disabilities is important. Inclusion classes often require a special assistant to the classroom teacher. The 1975 Education for All Handicapped Children Act (P.L. 94-142) made inclusion a controversial topic by requiring a free and appropriate education with related services for each child in the least restrictive environment possible, and an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each qualifying child. In 1991, the bill was renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the revision broadened the definition of disabilities and added related services. (Hummel,2008).
Another definition of inclusion is defined in the website of teachernet.com. “One of the greatest challenges facing schools is the provision of appropriate learning opportunities for all pupils. Within schools there are pupils with a range of abilities from different cultures, religions and social backgrounds. Some of these pupils experience barriers to learning as a result of their disability, heritage, gender, special educational need, ethnicity, social group, sexual orientation, race or culture. Research has proved that children from lower socio-economic backgrounds and/or specific ethnic and social groups are more likely to underachieve at school. This may lead to disaffection, low self-esteem, and marginalisation by others and, in some cases, formal exclusion from school. (www.teachernet.com). Some schools are more successful than others in meeting the needs of pupils from diverse backgrounds.” Mason, H. (2003) of Birminghan, UK presented process of inclusion in education:
Another important term to define is the word integration. Integration traditionally refers to the education of children with special needs in mainstream settings. (Mason,H. 2003). Organ (1993) defines the term integration that pertains to a social domain; it does and should refer to individuals of different background who opt to interact.
The review contains the study done by researchers on inclusion and integration policies in education of children with special needs. The article written by Schwartz, Odom and Sandall (1999), includes their research and found out that most of successful inclusive programs view inclusion as that starting point for all children. Children with disabilities are not expected to “earn” their way into early childhood programs by having the necessary “entry” skills (e.g. toilet training, communicating in sentences). ( Schwartz, Odom and Sandall, 1999), Programs may need to make special accommodations to make the inclusive experience successful. Jimmy lacked many of the skills that were typical of his four-year-old classmates; but the classroom teacher, itinerant teacher, and assistant teacher, with the help of the other classmates, arranged activities in ways that encouraged and even required Jimmy to participate. (Schwartz, Odom and Sandall,1999), This view of inclusion is based on the belief that inclusion can be appropriate for all children; making it work successfully depends on planning, training, and support
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