Inclusive Education Essay

1469 words - 6 pages

Personally I feel, that before attempting to find out whether our country understands and applies the concept of inclusion to its educational system, it is more adequate to try and understand the meaning of Inclusion, a complex issue which creates continuous debates. In the book Creating Inclusive Classrooms, J. Spencer Salend defines inclusion as :
“[…] a philosophy that brings diverse students, families, educators and community members together to create schools and other social institutions based on acceptance, belonging and community […] (Creating inclusive Classrooms, 2005, p.6)
As a result, inclusive education considers as from a young age, all students as full members of the school community including students with different needs. All learners would have all the opportunities and responsibilities available in schools. As Spencer puts it:
“[…]Inclusion seeks to establish collaborative, supportive, and nurturing communities of learners that are based on giving all learners the services and accommodation they need to succeed, as well as respecting and learning from each other’s individual differences [...]” (Ibid.,)
If we had to take a look at what’s happening in our country, according to the European Agency for development in special needs education, since 1989 the Maltese ,
“[…] Government embarked on an intensive programme for the promotion of inclusive education, with a substantial reduction in the number of pupils with special needs attending special schools and a corresponding increase in the number of pupils attending mainstream schools[…]” (European Agency for development in Special Needs Educations : Development of Inclusion : Malta, Mar 26, 2010)
This fact was proven later on in the document stating that :
“It is estimated that only 0.36% out of the total pupil population attends these schools. The rest of the pupils receive their education in mainstream schools.(Ibid.,)

This was possible thanks to adequate support assistance, such as the service of a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) . Whereas, before few students with special needs managed to join higher or special education, more students are nowadays joining lower secondary schools while a number of others are proceeding even to tertiary education. Consequently, we cannot underestimate the fact that a lot of progress has been made in what regards inclusive education in Malta. Yet, we still seem to have a lot of uncertainties about this issue. According to studies done by Dr Andrew Azzopardi, :

‘Inclusion’ even in Malta is a contemporary debate in education that raises a great deal of discussion and argumentation but regrettably remains a dispassionate topic, with shallow exchanges.” (Career Guidance for persons with disability, 2008)

Therefore, the issue of inclusive education in Malta remains one that raises a number of questions such as: Do Maltese teachers, LSA’s and administrative staff really understand the concept of inclusive education? Are...

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