INCLUSION: A BIRTHRIGHT
Education is the most important factor in any country’s social and economic development. It builds human capital by producing informed and productive citizens. Education creates opportunities for marginalized and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities to become better adjusted and productive citizens.
People with disabilities are still at a severe disadvantage in terms of accessing education in many parts of the world, especially in Pakistan. World Health Organization (WHO, 1981) indicates that 10 percent of the population has some sort of disability, such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, mental retardation, physical disability, learning disability or ...view middle of the document...
ADVANTAGES OF INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
Inclusive education is beneficial because it teaches a person with disability how to function in society. It's also beneficial for the peers and the adults they interact with helping them realize that people with disabilities are capable of successfully accomplishing many things. Inclusive education improves the school environment for everyone. Staff skills increase, teaching methods become more flexible, and more use is made of peer tutoring and small group work. Students become involved in both teaching and learning.
CHALLENGES OF INCLUSION
Attitudes are the greatest barrier or the greatest asset to the development of inclusion in education. The principle of an inclusive education system in which tolerance, diversity and equity is striven for may be uncontested; however, the way in which we achieve this is much more challenging. The existing education system in Pakistan is not strong enough to support inclusion yet.
Some of the main challenges to inclusive education programs in Pakistan are the following:
• Negative attitudes of parents, teachers, politicians, services providers and community members towards children with disabilities
• Lack of parental awareness about children with disabilities and their potential
• Accessibility of school buildings, classrooms toilets, playground and transport
• Biases in the curriculum, assessment, and examination system
• Limited financial resources
• Inadequate support system including insufficient trained and qualified professionals, medical and paramedical staff
• Lack of continuous follow-up and monitoring of activities
• Lack of coordination between stakeholders to share experiences and provide support for implementation of inclusive education in letter and spirit.
INTEGRATION: A BRIDGE BETWEEN INCLUSION & SEGREGATION
Integrated classrooms might be considered a happy medium between segregated and inclusive educational settings; that is, students with disabilities spend some time with mainstream students but part of the day is still spent in special educational settings (i.e., segregated environments).
A WORKING MODEL
Integrated, or “less than full inclusion”, programs could be considered as having the strengths of segregated programs but not the weaknesses. That is, students with disabilities still have the expertise and individualized attention of the special education teacher for part of their school day but they don’t experience the marginalization of being in a segregated setting full-time.
The Warnock Report (1978) described three levels of integration:
• Where special units are set up in ordinary schools.
• Where a special school and an ordinary school share the same site.
• Where children attending a special class or unit eat, play and consort with other children and possibly share out-of-class activities with them....