By Zyra Palaypay-Paguio
SPET I - Balanga Elementary SchoolDate posted: December 14, 2018
Many experts said that inclusion in regular setting classroom is one of the best ways to provide educational experience and growth for children with disabilities. Children should not be treated as different and isolated; the ability to learn and interact with other abled peers must be given emphasis. Teachers in regular setting and special education setting have to change their instructional practices and approaches in classroom in order to accommodate diversity and differences.
Inclusive Education is when all students, regardless of any challenges they may have, are placed in age-appropriate general education classes that are in their neighbourhood schools to receive high quality instruction, interventions, and supports that enable them to meet success in the core curriculum (Bui, Quirk, Almazan & Valenti, 2010; Alqurani & Gut, 2012). Inclusive education is the rights of every child. Whether the child is blind or deaf, the child has the right to include in a regular setting. Children, regardless of any challenges they may have, must have equal access to quality education.
Inclusive Education recognizes inclusive schools as the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all (UNESCO Policy Guidelines an Inclusion in Education, 2009 p.8) The question, Is the school ready for inclusion? It is easier to say that Inclusive Education is the rights of every child. Schools admit learners with special educational needs (LSENs) but the needs are not being addressed. When we say Inclusive Education, we will not limit its definition to instructional practices and curriculum but should have to consider the readiness of the school environment, the attitude of the regular and receiving teachers and the level of understanding of classmates and parents. It is educating the whole community.
Inclusive Education involves the processes of increasing the participation of all learners in, and reducing their exclusion from cultures, curricula and communities. It is important to involve LSENs in any classroom and school activities. It is not enough to say that the school admits them but acceptance and accommodation are not present. Increasing the participation of learners is one way of making connections with them. Just like Aifa and Rhian, blind pupils of Balanga Elementary School. They participated in Regional Festival of Talents 2018 held in Bulacan. They joined as contestants in choir and “Madulang Pagkukwento” together with their regular classmates. Aifa and other members won 3rd place while Rhian together with her classmates won 7th place in Regional Festival of Talents.
Inclusive Education is a process where all types of learners with diverse needs are given equal opportunities for a meaningful life in non-discriminatory environments. These environments foster belongingness through culturally/spiritually sensitive, learner-centered curriculum, learning processes, delivery modes and settings. It should be a child-friendly learning environment. No rejection, no exclusion, segregation and discrimination. Schools, teachers, staff, parents and the community should be aware of this. If the school caters pupils with hearing impairment, the school must learn sign language. It is not only the sped teacher of deaf who should know how to sign but it should be the whole school community also. This could be challenging for all of us, but this is the only way to achieve Education for All.
Inclusive Education involves the restructuring of policies and practices in schools so that they can respond to the diversity of learners in their local community. That learner with barriers should not be vulnerable to exclusion due to the serious behavioural issues, impairments of various types, disabilities and other learners from diverse needs. It is non-discriminatory environment. It should be free from bullying. When my pupil participated in Kab Scout, his parent heard one of the parents in a regular class said, “Hindi na dapat sinasama mga ‘yan”. This statement breaks my heart. Another example was when a regular teacher only accepts LSENs for the sake of following school rules but the acceptance and willingness to accommodate LSENs inside the regular classroom is not present. Where is the school readiness in inclusive education? Where is the belongingness? Republic Act No. 7277, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Disabled Persons” mandates the provision of educational assistance to persons with disability for them to pursue schooling in both public and private schools. The 1994 Salamanca Statement specified that all children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have.
Inclusive Education is the rights of every child. Schools, staff, teachers, parents and the community should change their ways of thinking, attitude and practices in order to achieve acceptance and accommodation.