Inclusive Education in Taiwan

Taiwan has started moving toward inclusion just last 2014. It conducts regular classes with special education services (inclusive) and resource room programs (integrative) nowadays.

Right after the inclusive education policy has been detailed, Taiwan has made adjustments “that can hinder or exclude students with special educational needs (SEN) with respect to areas such as physical facilities and pedagogic adaptation.”

Taiwan has already set out a comprehensive legal framework for the education of students with SEN. It has emphasized the elimination of discrimination, early identification/intervention, appropriate education for students—termed individual education plan (IEP)—with SEN, qualifications of special education teachers, and funding arrangements for special education.

The Special Education Act in Taiwan was enacted in 1984, amended in 2009, and mandated “zero rejection, inclusive education, and flexibility in curriculum and assessment.” Last 2013, the Annual Report of Special Education Statistics reported that 93.73% of the students with SEN received their special education services in general education schools while the others—the remaining 6.27%—got theirs in special schools ranging from primary to high school levels.

The IEPs must be tailored to each student with SEN. The plan must include information about the student concerned as well as the educational program designed. Students with special needs either have intellectual disabilities, visual impairments, hearing impairments, communication disorders, physical impairments, cerebral palsy, health impairments, severe emotional disorders, learning disabilities, severe/multiple impairments, autism, and developmental delays, among others.

Schools should set up a designated unit to take charge of special education so that students with SEN in Taiwan can enroll in any school nearest to them. They would be assessed by the Committee for Assessment, Placement and Counselling of Students in Special Education (特殊教育學生鑑定 及就學輔導會) in their district. Schools should also provide the students with SEN with educational auxiliary devices, appropriate teaching materials, assistance in learning and living, rehabilitation services, family support services, access to campus, and other support services.

IEP in schools below senior high level would be evaluated by the local authorities in Taiwan at least once every three years, while the Ministry of Education would recheck the local authorities. Each year, Taiwan shall allocate not less than 4.5% of its budgeted expenditure on education to special education while its local governments shall set aside no less than 5% of their education budgets for special education.

In the study “The Implementation of Individualized Education Program (IEP) in an inclusive class, Taiwan, its authors* has found out two things: (1) seat and curriculum adjustment are the key strategies to improve the inclusion for young children with disabilities, and (2) lack of personnel in an inclusive class is the main problem for implementing the functional and inclusive IEP objectives.

The success of Taiwan’s IEP will depend on the ability of the students with SEN to attain its outcomes or goals. It will also require the intensive cooperation between the members of a team in academics and practice.

To date, Taiwan is just working on its teachers’ confidence and capability, curriculum adaptation, peer acceptance, and supporting resources on inclusive education. It is also dealing with the “disruptive behaviors” of its students with disabilities that its schools deemed to be the “toughest challenge.”

“Some people automatically assume blind people are of lower cognitive abilities because of our lack of sight but the truth is that we can do anything despite our limited options. It’s all about the minds.” ~ Lai Jun-hong

*Authors: Tsuey-ling Lee (National Hsinchu University of Education), Mei-ching Chung (National Hsinchu University of Education), I-chun Chiu (Hsinchu Municipal Xi-Men Primary School), Chang-Chun Chiu (Hsinchu Municipal Xi-Men Primary School), Shih-chi Lin (Hsinchu Municipal Xi-Men Primary School)

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of FocusTaiwan

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