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What is inclusive education?

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Introduction

What is inclusive education? Inclusive education is concerned with the education and accommodation of ALL children in society, regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, or linguistic deficits. Inclusion should also include children from disadvantaged groups, of all races and cultures as well as the gifted and the disabled (UNESCO, 2003). Inclusion tries to reduce exclusion within the education system by tackling, responding to and meeting the different needs of all learners (Booth, 1996). It involves changing the education system so that it can accommodate the unique styles and way of learning of each learner and ensure that there is quality education for all through the use of proper resources, suitable curricula, appropriate teaching strategies and partnerships within the community (UNESCO, 1994). Inclusion will not happen instantaneously but requires careful planning and thinking, positive attitudes and behaviour and utilising the necessary specialised support, accommodations and adaptations to ensure all children become part of the school (Burstein, Sears, Wilcoxen, Cabello & Spagna, 2004), actively participate in the education system and later become fully contributing members of society (Department of Education, 2001). Inclusive education is about ensuring that schools can meet the needs of all learners. It is thus the responsibility of an inclusive school to embrace the diversity and special needs of all its learners, (Flem, Moen & Gudmundsdottir, 2004) identify and minimise the barriers to learning (Department of Education, 2001) and create a tolerant and respectful atmosphere in which people are valued and stigmatisation is minimised (Carrington & Robinson, 2004). All children thus need to be given the support they need so they can achieve success, feel a sense of security and belong to a community (Iarskaia-Smirnova, & Loshakova, 2004; Burke & Sutherland, 2004). Inclusive education also recognises that learning occurs both at home and in the community and therefore the support of parents, family and the community is vital (Department of Education, 2001). ...read more.

Middle

Other studies have shown that inclusion can work if there are positive learner-staff relationships, the utilisation of different teaching strategies, high teacher morale, collaborative reflection and learning (Carrington et al., 2004; Ainscow, Booth & Dyson, 2004), ongoing training and professional staff development, variation and flexibility of educators, the utilisation of existing resources within the school, community support (Flem et al., 2004), ongoing support for teachers, and the need to plan for change, be committed to the change process and prepared to make the necessary changes (Burstein et al., 2004). It is also necessary to have education support and resource centres available to the educators and at least one teacher's aid (Wong, Pearson, & Kuen Lo, 2004). Working from a multidisciplinary approach where different specialists get together to support the learner have also helped inclusion be successful (Forlin, 2004) Based on the success other countries have had and the research that has shown that inclusion is beneficial to both children with and without barriers to learning, I feel South Africa should follow the principles of inclusive education and begin the process of making parents and teachers aware of the benefits of inclusive education. As long as we learn from the failures of other countries and build on their successes (ensuring that there is adequate training and support for the teachers, necessary resources in the schools, appropriate modifications, collaboration, positive attitudes, flexibility, the use of varying teaching strategies and individualised goals set for each learner), inclusion can work in South Africa. Teachers' readiness for accommodating diversity and what should be done to facilitate proper implementation of inclusion in schools/classrooms It has been found that inclusion is most successful when teachers received intense training for working with learners who have disabilities (Jobe, Rust & Brissie, 1996). It is therefore essential that the teachers in South Africa feel prepared to face the challenges that inclusion will bring. Studies have shown that many teachers, although they feel that children with disabilities should have a right to be educated in the general classroom, do not believe that the learners will cope in the general classroom (Flem et al., 2004) ...read more.

Conclusion

Jobe, D, Rust, J. O, & Brissie, J. (1996). "Teacher attitudes toward inclusion of students with disabilities into regular classrooms." In Education 117(1), 234-245. 17. Peck, C. A, Staub, D, Gallucci, C & Schwartz, I. (2004). "Parent Perception of the Impacts of Inclusion on their Nondisabled Child." In Research & Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities 29 (2): 135 - 143 18. Raschke, D & Bronson, J. (1999). Creative Educators at Work: All Children Including those with Disabilities Can Play Traditional Classroom Games. Received from the World Wide Web on 20th July 2005. Web Address: http://www.uni.edu/coe/inclusion/philosophy/benefits.html. 19. Schmidt, M. W & Harriman, N.E. (1998). Teaching Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms. Harcourt Bruce College Publishers: New York. 20. Sharpe, M., York, J, & Knight, J (1994). "Effects of inclusion on the academic performance of classmates without disabilities." In Remedial and Special Education, 15, 281-287. 21. Stroeve, W. (1998). One of the Kids: Educating children with and without disabilities together in the same classes and schools. Received from the World Wide Web on 20th July 2005. Web Address www.aare.edu.au/03pap/hea03769.pdf 22. Turner, N. D & Traxler, M. (2000). Children's Literature for the Primary Inclusive Classroom. Delmar Thompson Learning: Africa. 23. UNESCO. (2003). Overcoming Exclusion through Inclusive Approaches in Education: A Challenge & a Vision - A Conceptual Paper. Received from the World Wide Web on 20th July 2005. Web Address: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001347/134785e.pdf 24. UNESCO. (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. Received from the World Wide Web on 20th July 2005. Web Address: http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/pdf/SALAMA_E.PDF 25. UNESCO. (2005). First Steps: Stories on Inclusion in Early Childhood Education. Received from the World Wide Web on 20th July 2005. Web Address: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001102/110238eo.pdf 26. UNESCO. (2001). Including the Excluded: Meeting Diversity in Education. Received from the World Wide Web on 20th July 2005. Web Address: http://dit-fs1.hq.int.unesco.org/ulis/docs/0012/001226/122613eo.pdf 27. Van Kraayenoord, C. (2003). "The Task of Professional Development." In International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 50 (4): 363 - 365 28. Wong, A. I. P, Pearson, V & Kuen Lo, E. M. (2004). "Competing philosophies in the classroom: a challenge to Hong Kong teachers." ...read more.

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