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Saturday, 16 April 2016
According to UNESCO, inclusive education is seen as “a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion from education and from within education.” The goal is that the whole education system will facilitate learning environments where teachers and learners embrace and welcome the challenge and benefits of diversity. Within an inclusive education approach, learning environments are fostered where individual needs are met and every student has an opportunity to succeed. Inclusive education is a real implementation of the basic human right to education. It is not only about attaining universal access to education, but universal access to meaningful and purposeful knowledge and learning for all. Although the context in every country and region is unique, we all share common concerns in education regarding justice, equity and peace. Students need to acquire the competencies and appropriate qualifications for life in an ever-changing and increasingly plural and interdependent political and economic landscape of the 21st century.
Inclusive education brings all students together in one classroom and community, regardless of their strengths or weaknesses in any area, and seeks to maximize the potential of all students. Inclusion is an effort to make sure that diverse learners – those with disabilities, different languages and cultures, different homes and family lives, different interests and ways of learning – are exposed to teaching strategies on a more personalized platform as teachers in inclusive classrooms vary their styles to enhance learning for all students.
Historically special classes were created for students with special needs. Special educators felt that if they could just teach these students separately, in smaller groups, they could help them to catch up. However, the reality is that students in segregated special education classes have fallen further and further behind. Research shows that most students learn and perform better when exposed to the richness of the general education curriculum, as long as the appropriate strategies and accommodations are in place. At no time does inclusion require the classroom curriculum, or the academic expectations, to be watered down. On the contrary, inclusion enhances learning for students, both with and without special needs. Students learn, and use their learning differently; the goal is to provide all students with the instruction they need to succeed as learners and achieve high standards, alongside their friends and peers. Schools of the future need to ensure that each student receives the individual attention, accommodations, and supports that will result in meaningful learning.
A question frequently asked by skeptics is ‘will the learning of students without special needs suffer because of inclusion?’ Studies have shown no slowdown in the learning of children without special needs in inclusive classrooms in fact research suggests that students without special needs can gain a number of important benefits from relationships with their classmates who have special needs which include friendships, social skills, personal principles and values and caring classroom environments.57
Inclusive Classroom Practices
Inclusion requires some changes in how teachers teach, as well as changes in how students with and without special needs interact with and relate to one another. Inclusive education practices frequently rely on active learning, authentic assessment practices, applied curriculum, multi-level instructional approaches, and increased attention to diverse student needs and personalization.
The general principles that govern specific inclusive classroom practices focus on several aspects which include:
Remediation is an important component of inclusive education as it makes provision for intervention or support to help all students attain their achievement goals.
A remediation plan helps teachers to organize the specific remedial work after they have identified the specific problem areas and have linked them to steps that can produce attainable results
.The remedial plan can be used to:
Involve Students in their own learning : a teacher-student conference is held to go over the details of the remediation plan to make certain the students understand what they are expected to achieve
Involve Parents as much as possible: the remediation plan is shared with parents so that they are equally involved and they understand the steps their children should take to improve their performance in class.
Identify common steps and resources that can be used for different levels of remedial study: Teachers identify several sets of steps and resources for at least two different levels of student need in the identified academic area.
Once the teacher identifies students in need of intervention, she can choose their level and the appropriate remediation plan. While the teacher will probably want to customize the plan per student, she will at least have a defined set of steps with which to begin. After the end of a semester the teacher/ special educator can then evaluate each plan’s success rate and determine what can be revised to improve each set of actions or resources.
A writer, thinker, published author and an educationist, Dr. Farooq Ahmad Wasil, is CEO of Goldline Education, Dubai, UAE. He has over 3 decades of experience in the field of education – setting up, operating and managing schools. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.