Inclusive Education in Norway

Even before 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain to talk about inclusive education, Norway has already thought of integrating every student into the ordinary school system.

Norway believes in integrating students—with disabilities or none—in ordinary education. In the Norwegian framework presented by Peder Haug, a professor of pedagogy in Høgskolen i Volda and research director in the Research Council of Norway, an inclusive educational environment has been defined to focus on the increasing fellowship among students so that everyone can participate as part of a process of democratization.

Inclusion is the goal of the educational policy of the Norwegian legislation. All learners must have access to kindergartens and common schools of high quality regardless of their background or abilities, and educational institutions must consider and accommodate each individual’s abilities and capacities.

Its Ministry of Education and Research has also observed in 2010-2011 that when learners with special needs are studying amongst other learners, their classmates have learned to approve of all learners the way they are.

Norway aims to change the educational environment—not the learner—through inclusion in schools. In its Education Act, learners in the primary and secondary school have the right to go in their local school. They have the right to receive adapted education, which would require teachers to have skills that can adapt to different kinds of learners. Only if a school can prove that it cannot act on the necessary measures for a certain learner can he or she transfer.

Would-be teachers, on the other hand, are trained at the Institute of Education. They can study a course in special needs education, which includes a module on inclusive education. The “adapted teaching” module consists of managing diversity, adapted teaching, and learning in primary school (1–7) and the professional teacher and diversity in schools (5–10).

At the University of Troms, teacher education is divided into years 1–7 (primary education) and 5–10 (secondary education), focusing on inclusive, participatory, and multicultural education. It has launched “Pro-Ted,” a project with the main purpose of developing a research-based, comprehensive teacher education Bby carrying out systematic experiments and acting as a base for research-based, intensive collaboration.

Norway still persists to promote inclusivity in its schools with high quality special education to this day. The 1990 World Conference on Education for All had called on countries to develop inclusive schools alongside specialist support services and it vowed to do its part.

“Children and young people must have an equal right to education, regardless of where they live, gender, social and cultural background, or any special needs.” ~Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research 

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of kbyram2

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Inclusive Education in Turkey

The current statistical trends and developments within inclusive education in Turkey are not well known. The schooling rate of students with special needs should be improved, as well as the quality and variety of special education services within inclusive education.

The concept of inclusive education is identified by the Ministry of Education (MONE) Special Education Regulations itself. It believes that inclusive education should be provided to every individual—with special education needs (SEN) or none—at pre-school, primary education, secondary education and adult education level.

Early childhood education is for individuals aged between 0-36 months; a mother will be monitored at the start of their pregnancy until her baby will be six years old. If a problem is detected, the child will be directed at once to the associated institutions such as hospitals, guidance and research centers.

On the other hand, pre-school education is for individuals aged between 37-66 months. It could be extended to 78 months depending on the report of the Special Education Assessment Committee and the written consent of the parents.

The goal for these special education services is to enable every Turkish child continue their education in mainstream schools1. They would be assessed and diagnosed by the Board of Special Education Evaluation Committee, and if the individual with SEN is unable to achieve the general goal, he or she would stay in the special need school.

Turkey also enables its citizens who wish to teach special education do so. Some of its universities have departments for teaching on visual impairment, hearing impairment, giftedness, mentally retardation, and a general special needs education. The following components are also included: Fundamentals of inclusive education (definition of inclusive education, key concepts, and the history of the inclusive education movement); Overview of children with SEN; How to create an Individual Education Plan; How to design and adapt activities for children with SEN; and How to assess learning outcomes of children with SEN.

Problems in implementing special education still remain, though. Physical conditions of other schools are not suitable for the disabled individuals. The school staff, pupils and parents have negative attitude towards individuals with SEN. There is no standard school model. There is also no support from the families, and there is no special training support for the teachers implementing inclusive education.

In the study Developing Inclusive Education Policies and Practices in Turkey: A Study of the Roles of UNESCO and Local Educators (November 2010, Arizona State University) by Aysegul Ciyer, the diverse Turkish culture(s) has been acknowledged. “Although Turkey has made considerable strides toward making inclusive education a possibility, there is much work to be done. The many cultural facets of Turkish culture(s) in addition to personal choice among various demographic profiles and how this affects education—aside from inclusion issues, which remains a very contentious topic—have been given very little attention.”

It’s just fortunate that, last July 12, a 19-year-old aspiring musician with autism has been given educational support. Yunus Yazar was unable to talk until he was three years old, but he started writing and reading at age 4. He had Asperger’s syndrome yet he has such an extraordinary musical talent so Turkish actor/comedian Cem Yilmaz would help him through his studies at the Istanbul University.

“Inclusive education is a special education practice based on the principle that the education of individuals with special education needs (SEN) continues their education with their peers without disability in the official and private schools at pre-school, primary education, secondary education and adult education level by providing them educational support services.” ~ Turkish Ministry of Education

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the WISE Channel

1In inclusive classrooms, a maximum of two pupils with SEN may be placed.

Inclusive Education in Thailand

Access to state education has been guaranteed for all students through the National Educational Act in Thailand in March 16, 1999.

And, since then, the number of students with disabilities accessing education increased from 145,000 to 187,000.

Thailand has also passed the Education Provision for People with Disabilities Act in 2008 that mandates inclusive education.

Cultural barriers and resistance from some head teachers in Thailand remain to be a challenge there, though. For one, the Thais believe in reincarnation. So disability is widely viewed as a person’s failure to lead positive previous lives (this eventually leads some families to feel shame about having a child with disabilities.)

Thailand has only one language decreed to be the country’s only official language and the language of instruction in public schools: standard Thai. With only a minimum of 2,000 baht (approximately £41) to cover the required resources or training expenses of every student, state schools also have “woefully insufficient resources” to implement inclusive education properly.

In her dissertation paper “A Model for Inclusive Schools in Thailand,” Sermsap Vorapanya found out that the idea of inclusive education in Thailand is still in early development. So she suggested providing more training to school professionals through an ongoing process as well as to medical personnel who are involved in the assessment and critical certification processes.

Resource centers should be equipped with materials that support the learning of the students also. Training and intervention agencies should be established in each community because, if not, private parties should deliver services.

Parents need to acquire knowledge and information, too. They themselves should be active to cope with the difficulties of raising children with disabilities.

“…while more steps need to be taken as implementation of inclusion continues, the principals, teachers, parents, education experts, and the people of Thailand have the commitment and strength of determination to make inclusion an integrated part of Thai education and to provide leadership on inclusion to the world.” ~Sermsap Vorapanya

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of TheVJMovement

Inclusive Education in Kenya

Aside from the magic its tourism board asserts, Kenya has provided for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in the country. It has paved the way for the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, fining anyone who would offend PWDs with up to twenty thousand shillings or to a year of imprisonment.

The Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has exempted PWDs as well from paying for the recreational facilities owned or operated by the Government. Materials, articles and equipment, including motor vehicles, could also be exempted from import duty, value added tax, demurrage charges, port charges, and any other government levy if they are modified or designed for PWDs.

In the country’s courts, Kenyan PWDs do not have to pay legal fees. The latter—may they be the victim or the accused—have been entitled to free sign language interpretation, Braille services and physical guide assistance.

All television stations in Kenya shall provide for a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts. All persons providing public telephone services shall install and maintain units for persons with either hearing or visual disabilities.

Kenya’s respect for the PWDs in it started as far back as 1980 when it declared the National Year for People with Disabilities. Its Ministry of Education even initiated the Educational Assessments and Resource Services to improve its services for special education students.

Four years after the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has been passed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed. It was ratified the next year and became the basis for the National Kenyan Constitution in recognizing disability rights.

Locally, Kenya has been helped by the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) that consists of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Kenya Society of the Physically Handicapped, and other organizations. It has appointed a taskforce to review the laws related to PWDs and collect the public views.

Internationally, it has five international organizations to assist PWDs: the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), the Sightsavers, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the Leonard Cheshire Disablity.

The CBM Kenya has been working against “blinding trachoma” and aims to eliminate the disease completely by 2019. It was funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust carrying out surgeries, distributing antibiotics, educating communities, and improving environmental conditions to prevent trachoma.

The DREDF, first established in Berkeley, California in 1979, is a legal service center backing up disability rights. It has started the Disability and Media Alliance Project http://d-map.org/ to bring the disability community and the media industry together, and continues to shape the legal and policy strategies needed to promote its vision in the United States and worldwide.

The Sightsavers, on the other hand, believes that 80% of blindness in the world is avoidable. So it has helped the citizens of India, Africa, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sudan, and Ghana with eye problems.

It has also assisted 13-year-old Flash Odiwuor even though he has another kind of ailment: polio. He was struck down with it and lost the use of both his legs. Only through the Sightsavers’ inclusive education program was he able to go back to school—at the Nyaburi Integrated Primary School, to be exact—along with other Kenyans who can see.

The IFES has more or less the same vision as the DREDF: it aims to empower the underrepresented. But unlike the DREDF that focuses on everything that entails a legal process, the IFES has provided technical assistance to election officials so that everyone can participate in the said political process.

The Leonard Cheshire has pioneered inclusive education strategies for girls with disability in Kenya. It has targeted 2,050 female PWDs in 50 primary schools in the Lake Region.

“I am so happy to be back at school. The headmaster gave me a wheelchair so I can now move around as much as I want.” ~ Flash Odiwuor

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Luke Sniewski

Being SPED-ready

In the Philippines, an educational institution has become “SPED-ready”: the Carmona National High School (CNHS) in Cavite.

“SPED-ready” is a term The PWD Forum will use from now on in describing schools that let students—with disabilities or none—learn together. It was its belief to either integrate special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines or teach sign language. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and, since its population is ageing, everyone is qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization.

So for its part, the CNHS has launched socialization activities that give practical training to PWDs. “Hindi namin itinatago ang mga [estudyanteng may] IDs (intellectual disability) ditto (Here, we do not hide our students with intellectual disabilities),” CNHS principal Teresita Silan was quoted in a report.

It has inspired high school student Bernadette Levardo to hang out instead of tucking herself in. She now aims to be a chef, buy a house, and own a restaurant.

“Through the transition program, Bernadette was trained, she improved her social skills, and it boosted her confidence. I was even amazed she was able to deliver a speech just recently in senior high school,” her teacher, Estie Manguiat, has remarked in the same report.

Integration could allow PWDs and non-PWDs alike to develop their skills and interact independently. Even Student Inclusion Division head Nancy Pascual of the DepEd central office has come to see that development and social adaptation are much faster with interaction.

In CNHS, this is done through a seating arrangement that lets PWDs and non-PWDs sit together. Non-SPED educators are also regularly trained to be sensitive to a PWDs’ needs and pace of learning by the local government’s Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAO). The school has forged partnerships with fast food chains and factories in their town, too, to promote employment.

As of now, the Philippines can already boast of schools that are “SPED-ready”. The only thing to work on is an “upgrade” of these educational institutions into learning resource centers (LRCs) to get a mainstream school enroll PWDs.

“Specialized equipment are lodged in the learning resource centers. Any school that has PWD enrollment will be able to access it anytime of the year. This addresses the financial side. Instead of going to SPED schools far from their homes, they could just enroll in the nearest school to their residence, which is not necessarily a SPED center.” ~ Nancy Pascual

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Rappler

Turning Three!

In its third year, The PWD Forum has continued advocating for the integration of special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines.

It has done so by reporting about how “PWD-friendly” some countries are by discussing the legislations each has in governing its citizens with disabilities (Israel, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Bahamas).

It has also shared the stories of the persons with disabilities from the said countries who didn’t let their disabilities stop them (Mohamed Dalo, Jiří Ježek, Martin Kovář, Běla Hlaváčková, Petra KurkováTownsely Roberts, Gary Russell).

The PWD Forum has enumerated the organizations present in the same countries and described how each has been doing what they can for the PWDs in their midst1 2 3 4. It has listed the disabilities recognized in the world today; discussed which of these is common in Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Bahamas; and introduced a first-of-its-kind summit that happened last February 22-24, 2017.

The PWD Forum still believes in integrating special education to the basic and secondary curriculum of the schools in the Philippines. It would help the country’s economy if almost all of its citizens are skilled and qualified to meet the labor demands of globalization. And since its population is ageing, everyone is very much needed on the labor market. PWDs should then be given chances to contribute to its welfare.

“We have a responsibility to ensure that every individual has the opportunity to receive a high-quality education, from prekindergarten to elementary and secondary, to special education, to technical and higher education and beyond.” ~ Jim Jeffords

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Lei Pico

1Those in Israel: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/09/16/help-in-israel/

2Those in Netherlands: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/help-in-netherlands/

3Those in Czech Republic: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/help-in-czech-republic/

4Those in Bahamas: https://thepwdforum.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/help-in-bahamas/

5http://www.tribune242.com/news/2015/dec/02/why-its-so-important-end-disability-discrimination/

PWD Complaints

In the Philippines, persons with disability can only avail of one discount scheme: the promo discount or the discount mandated by the Republic Act 9442.

“There is also another law that exempt PWD discount from value added tax, which is Republic Act 10754,” explained Carmen Reyes Zubiaga, acting executive director of the National Council on Disability Affairs, in an email.

“Value added [tax] is only 12%. The computation should be as follows—VAT inclusive Retail Price less 12% VAT and less 20% discount,” she added.

This goes without saying that if a good or service has already excluded the value-added tax from the cost, a PWD can still avail of the promo discount and/or the PWD discount provided that the price of goods or service in promo is entitled to the value added tax.

“For the availment of discount instead of promo, you have to ask the regular price of the procedure. However, you also have to check if the discounted price [already] includes VAT (if the product is VATable). Also, look for proof that the product is discounted (public announcement, fliers, approval of DTI and other approving entities).”

For further inquiries about the discounts and privileges of PWDs in the Philippines, Dir. Zubiaga advised to visit the NCDA.

“The worst thing about a disability is that people see it before they see you.” ~ Easter Seals

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Julia Davila