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2018, for inclusion!

Call it cluster sampling if you may, but the summaries previously conducted on 12 countries in this blog have proven the necessity of inclusive education in the world.

Inclusive education refers to the idea of PWDs and non-PWDs alike studying at the same school. Everyone could lead “regular” lives. Everyone could have a chance to appreciate diversity. Everyone could also learn academic and social skills at their own pace within an appropriate environment.

The inability of a country to implement inclusive education till now cannot really be blamed on its economy. While it is true that money is needed to build schools and provide training, a positive attitude is also necessary to achieve inclusive education.

Take for example Kenya, the 40th poorest country based on the assessment of the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook Database in October 2016. Poor as it is, it has managed to enact the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 and specified a solid framework for the development of a truly inclusive education system in the 2010 Kenyan constitution. It has also signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), believing that PWDs and non-PWDs studying together.

Even Bhutan, the 72nd poorest country in the same list, has  signified its confidence on inclusive education through the frameworks Standards for Inclusive Education, National Education Policy, Individual Education Plan (IEP), and Education Sector Strategy 2020. It has also devoted about seven percent of its gross domestic product to enable free education up to the tenth grade.

Of course, there’s still a challenge; inclusive education here is synonymous to letting girls study. But Bhutan has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to get the idea started. It has also signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All-Dakar Framework for Action (1994), and the Proclamation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Commission on Disability on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities (2008).

Even the “rich” country Norway would like to let PWDs and non-PWDs study together.1 It has already thought of integrating every student into the ordinary school system even before 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain to talk about inclusive education. Norway also legislated the Education Act2, initiated adapted education3, and established the Institute of Education4.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” ~ Ignacio Estrada

1It is the 182nd poorest country of the 187 assessed.

2Learners in the primary and secondary school have the right to go to their local school.

3This train teachers in adapting to different kinds of learners.

4The institute train SPED teachers.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of educause

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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

Inclusive Education in New Zealand

New Zealand has two proofs that it cares for the persons with disabilities in the country: the Blind and Low Vision Education Network NZ and the St Theresa’s School.

BLENNZ is a Ministry of Education-funded national school that provides educational programs and specialist support services to children and young people who are blind, deaf-blind, or with visual acuity of 6/18 or less. It offers unique immersion courses from its Homai campus in Manurewa to those aged 0 to 21 from all over New Zealand.

Each course targets particular skills and group together students according to age, skill need or eye condition. The specialist teachers referred to as the resource teachers: vision (RTVs) are the ones who assess a child’s needs then team him or her up with the other staff to provide the best support possible.

St Theresa’s School, on the other hand, integrates deaf education and culture into its institution. It also hosts sign language classes once a week (every Monday).

Also known as Aotearoa, New Zealand has begun showing concern for its PWDs in 1877. It has introduced then a centrally funded system of regionally controlled schools for all children from 5-15 years old. Then in 1993, it signed in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and has aimed to achieve a world-class inclusive education over the following decade. This was congealed in the New Zealand Disability Strategy in 2001 comprising of 15 objectives­, one of which is about providing the best education for disabled people.”

It was also required by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote access, inclusion, empowerment, equality, and the right to education upon its ramification to the agreement in 2008. Disability has nothing to do with the impairments persons with disabilities in New Zealand have, anyway. It is more of the process that happens when the “normal” ones design the world only for their way of living. (Ministry of Health, 2001).

Through the New Zealand Education Act, children with disabilities in the country have been entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school from five to 19 years old (Education Act, 1989, section 3). They have the same rights to enroll and receive education at state schools as any other child in New Zealand (section 8).

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has also developed the website Inclusive Education: Guides for Schools to support the government’s vision of all schools demonstrating inclusive practices by 2014. It is actually one of the initiatives of Success for All that envisions a fully inclusive education system to result in confident educators; parents, families, whänau and communities.

The goal of educational inclusion is not to erase differences, but to enable all students to belong within an educational community that validates and values their individuality.” ~ Stainback, Stainback, East, and SapponShevin (1994)

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of vanAschTV

Inclusive Education in Malaysia

In Malaysia, persons with disabilities have their own name: “orang kurang upaya.”

They enjoy regulations that define how inclusive education is implemented there such as the National Special Needs Education System of the Malaysian Education Act in 1996 and the Education Regulations in 2013.

The country has already laid out the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) to move more students with special needs towards the Inclusive Education Programme (IEP) as well as raising the overall quality of provision. It even provided a guidebook prepared to direct its implementation.

Malaysia’s move towards inclusion was given impetus by its participation in the “The world conference on education for all” spearheaded by the UNESCO last 1990 in Jomtien, Thailand. Then, inclusive education was introduced through the Education Act 1996 as part of the continuum of services available for children with special needs.

As early as 1993, though, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) has come to offer the pre-service teacher preparation program so that the students can have a Bachelor of Education degree in Special Needs Education. The University of Malaya has also offered a Master’s degree with the integration of disability-related content.

In 2008, the Malaysia’s Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Act was enacted and mandated that government-run and private education institutions are responsible for providing infrastructure, equipment and teaching materials, teaching methods, curricula and other forms of support to enable children with disabilities to pursue education.

To date, the Malaysian primary teachers have a concept of inclusive education as merely placing all children identified by the Ministry of Education with learning difficulties into mainstream classes, either part-time or Rill-time. The teachers were of the view that the structure of primary schools will need to change in order to support the Ministry’s plan, or else the plan itself should be modified.

 “We are Malaysians and nothing can differentiate us as long as we have the heart and hands to listen and express ourselves.” ~ Lovira Jospely

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Tedx Talks

Inclusive Education in South Africa

As soon as democracy was established in South Africa, the provision of education for learners with disabilities in the country has become a part of its development. Everyone has the right to “a basic education, including basic adult education; and to further education, which the state through reasonable measures must make progressively available and accessible,” and the state may not discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including disability (Section 29, Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996).

So, in 2001, the Department of Education has come up with a framework that would address the diverse needs of all learners who experience barriers to learning. It asserted that in order to make inclusive education a reality, there must be a conceptual shift regarding the provision of support for learners who experience barriers to learning.

This framework—the Universal Design for Learning (UDL)—has been based in the fields of cognitive science and neuroscience that stipulates how we learn through memory, language processing, perception, problem solving, and thinking. At its heart is the design of goals, methods, materials, and assessments that make it accessible to all students, with disabilities or none.

It came out good; the European Union has come to support the initiative of this country three years after. It placed South Africa on its “best footing,” chief education specialist Marie Schoeman opined in the article “Working Towards Inclusive Education in South Africa.”

“In general there is cohesion between these projects,” she added. “They look at all learners who are experiencing barriers to learning, and improve their chances for through-put, which is a big concern in South Africa, where only a little more than half the learner population which starts in Grade R finishes school because of poverty, neglect and learning difficulties.”

Every child has come to be supplied then with numeracy and literacy workbooks from day one in Grade R to the end of compulsory education in Grade 91. The books were printed on sustainable papers with toxin-free ink and available in all eleven of South Africa’s official languages—including braille and large print—for the price of less than a croissant each.

There has also been “full-service schools2,” one of which is the Isiziba Primary School located in Gauteng’s Ekhuruleni North District. Nonprofit organization Inclusive Education South Africa continues to support and promote positive models of schools and learning centers there.

The remaining problem is teacher necessity, which South Africa solved through its “Teaching and Learning Development (TLD) Sector Reform Program.” It developed a teacher education system in 2015 to assist early childhood development educators, primary school teachers, special needs teachers, technical and vocational education and training lecturers, community education and training lecturers, and the professional development of university academics.

The education system will play a greater role in building an inclusive society, providing equal opportunities and helping all South Africans to realise their full potential, in particular those previously disadvantaged by apartheid policies, namely black people, women and people with disabilities.” ~ South African government’s 2009 National Development Plan

 

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of World of Inclusion

1This was carried out by printing companies Lebone Litho and Paarl Media, and delivery firm UTI, in 2012. This action resulted in 3,600 permanent jobs and 5,000 temporary ones.

2Full-service schools are those that welcome children with different educational needs.

Inclusive Education in Bhutan

Bhutan has two policies ruling children with disabilities and special needs in the country: the Standards for Inclusive Education and the National Education Policy. Everyone with physical, mental and other types of impairment will be able to access and benefit from education alongside others.

In 2015, the small Himalayan country best known for its unique principle of Gross National Happiness has transitioned its educational system from being monastic to a public institution in the 1960s. It has devoted about seven percent of its gross domestic product to education, to enable free education up to the tenth grade.

Seven years ago, there are over 3,300 children with immediate special learning needs in Bhutan (UNICEF, 2008). The Individual Education Plan (IEP), which was particularly framed to assist learning of those disabled and diverse educational needs children was also still not implemented. That changed when the UNDO and GNHC formulated the National Disability Policy of Bhutan last January 5, 2016. They based it on international standards such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. A day short to a year after—January 4, 2017—they finally endorsed the standards for inclusive education

Prior to that, in 2001, the Changangkha Lower Secondary School was established as an integrated school providing special needs education. The Drukgyel Lower Secondary School.also put up a Deaf Education Unit in 2003. Three more integrated schools were set up in Mongar, Samtse and Zhemgang by a division under the Department of School Education that started as a unit only in 2000.

Bhutan believes that “education has become the inalienable right of all Bhutanese,” therefore, in its developmental philosophy, persons with disabilities in the country have to “enjoy equal opportunities in all walks of life.” Even those with physical, mental and other types of impairment can access and benefit from education as well (Education Sector Strategy 2020). It has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), signed the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All -Dakar Framework for Action (1994), and the Proclamation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Commission on Disability on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities (2008).

Differently-abled people shouldn’t just be given charity, clothes, and food, and left alone. They should be made part of the society, part of the activities. They should be a contributing member of the society and not just recipients.” ~ Sanga Dorji

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Yellow Bhutan

Inclusive Education in Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has been recognized by the Global Monitoring Report on Education for All as the first in the Arab world in delivering education services in the Middle East. It is also the fourth in the world among countries with medium probability of achieving the goals of education for all.

Unfortunately, there are no accurate statistics showing the real number of persons with disabilities in Jordan. The Department of Statistics has counted only 1.23% PWDs in the community while the Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities (HCD) has tallied 2%. There is also no specific law for PWDs in the educational provisions. The first law of education in Jordan was issued in 1964 but it was not until 2007 that the Rights of People with Disabilities Act No. 31 was issued. It has given the HCD the sole responsibility to provide the services for PWDs, and has defined the term “inclusion” for what it should be: as “measures, programs, plans, and policies aimed at achieving the full participation of disabled people in life without any form of discrimination and with equal with others.”

Furthermore, inclusive education in Jordan has been likened to the concept of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: as “the right of persons with disabilities to education with a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity.” It has adopted the American education policy of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in order to develop full-inclusion.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in Jordan has maintained that children with disabilities must be educated with children who are not disabled. Only if the educational alternatives cannot be achieved in the regular classroom can a PWD be isolated. The Confederation of Family Organizations in the European Union (COFACE) has also come to believe that “inclusion is not the same as integration. Whereas integration requires the child to adjust to an education system, inclusion must be about making the system adapt to each child.” The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has seen inclusive education 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 within and from education.”

So, in Jordan, three independent institutions oversee educational services for its PWDs under the age of 18: the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Development, and the Higher Council for Affairs of Persons with Disabilities. For PWDs over the age of 18, the responsibility rests on the Ministry of Higher Education.

 “[Inclusive education] is the prerequisite for stability. If schools managed to accommodate all students, they will grow up to create non-discriminatory, peaceful and stable societies,” Kamal Jabr