Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

The term Inclusive Education appeared in the late 1980s. It is a researched-based model that addresses the educational and social requirements of Students with Special Educational Needs (SEN) in mainstream schools.  In Pakistan, we have been playing with the concept over time. In 1986, the first National Policy for Rehabilitation of the Disabled was formulated which was abounded in 1988. The second National Policy for Special Education was made in 2002, but it again abounded in 2006. In 2011 Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) article # 24 of the convention, which says “States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. To realize this right without discrimination and based on an equal opportunity, states parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels.…”. It means we have an international commitment to inclusion but we need to reflect are we fulfilling it.

 Through this approach children with Special Educational Needs (SEN), are mixed with other children in mainstream education so that their social needs are fulfilled and children develop acceptance and empathy towards one another. The idea is to help other children in particular and society as large to acknowledge that they are like other children; they need to be loved, cared for, developed friendship, included in life skills and games. It is a very specialized area that needs political commitment, understanding, expertise, resources, and robust planning. Inclusive education has not been successful in Pakistan. Experts identify three key reasons for that, firstly, there is a deficiency of understanding on inclusion, secondly, lack the mandatory skills besides attitudes, and, finally, insufficient resources.

The fundamental concept of inclusion is based on Social Constructivism theory which believes that children learn from one another when they work in a social setting.  In this approach students with special needs are mixed with other students in a class and school for gaining blended experiences to both sides. Schools with Inclusive Education build and develop the classrooms according to the needs of all sorts of students having different abilities. Inclusive Education institutions acknowledge students with special needs and focus to facilitate them to work with other students based on reciprocity. Schools provide inclusive education to specific learners that have mild to moderate special needs. However, the overall conditions do not support the model therefore, the chances of success remain very thin.  

            Inclusion provides the students the opportunities to participate freely in general school activities. When the students interact, they develop care and respect and get acquainted with the needs of one another. They develop friendships and help each other. It’s the responsibility of a school to develop the minds of students in the same environment that the special needs students are special and loving fellows. They should take care of them and give them their full moral support during engagement in tasks, assignments, and games.  Schools need to ensure the provision of enabling environment for all students irrespective of their abilities in their premises.

            Peter Mittler Emeritus Professor of Special Needs Education at the University of Manchester suggests that inclusion should be at the heart of both education and social policy. Inclusion “involves a process of reform and restructuring of the school as a whole” to cater to the diversity of children with different conditions and abilities. In inclusive education, students with special educational needs along with other students fully participate in school and get awareness on their social, civic, and educational rights. They respect the other students in abilities, language, culture, and other forms of individual differences. According to Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, students’ performance in completing the education tasks is affected by the feeling students feel, seen, and judge by other students. The feeling of complexity and inferiority affects and diminish the students’ performance. The function of inclusive education is to provide an environment where learners can interact with other students effectively without losing their self-confidence.

It is the prime responsibility of the teachers working with such children that they should know the individual needs of all children in their classes so that they can be treated at the level which they deserve. Considering that some students do need to have special needs while others have, has expelled teachers to be more productive.    Provision of Inclusive Education without finding out the differences of children is a dishonest commitment towards dealing with the needs of all children.

It has been a dilemma of our teacher training courses that they are either not carried at all or not relevant.  Inclusive Education needs a special skill set, knowledge, and specialized attitudes of the teachers who are involved in the program. Unfortunately, there has not been enough work done in this program which includes proper planning and budget allocation for specialized teacher training. It is a tough ask from teachers to be productive in inclusive education when they are not skillful in handling children with their special needs.

There is a scarcity of proficient teachers that have the aptitude to enrich the curriculum to suit it to the need of special children. Inclusive Education is considered a formality where the schools do because they are asked to and the higher up report it because they want the international agencies to keep their sustainable financial support. 

The overall school infrastructure of the classrooms does not support inclusiveness, lighting system, furniture, books, stairs, teaching resources, and doorways are not built keeping view of needs of special children. Running programs of a very sensitive nature such as Inclusive Education without proper planning and preparation are inclined to fail and have an adverse effect on the wellbeing of children with special needs. They may become victims of abuse, disrespected, and undermined by their colleagues and by the teachers.

By Dr. Sarfraz Ahmed

The author is a PhD Scholar, principal at The Educators (A project of Beaconhouse), Teacher Trainer, Mentor & Academics Expert.

7 thoughts on “Are We Doing Justice to Inclusive Education”
  1. You have rightly mentioned that as part of the international commitments, we have opened the doors of public institutions to special educational need students. However, the irony of situation is worse than one could imagine. We do not have capability to cater these children due to lack of professionally trained teachers, scarcity of resources and inclusive friendly school buildings. Even it has been my personal observation that teachers teaching those students are not aware of the meaning
    and basics of inclusive education. Congratulations for highlighting this issue. May i request more references for in-depth understanding of this area. Would much appreciate if you could provide. Thanks

  2. An excellent article which highlighted a very important issue nicely. its true that parents support and encouragement is so important in child personality development. Good efforts.. Congratulations.

  3. Being the citizen of an underdeveloped country, it is a matter of immense pleasure for me that the educational scholars and researchers like you, are striving to aware the people regarding a topic which acquires utmost attention. I urge Allah Almighty to be with you and your effort may prove a light house to extravagated boat of education in our country. I urge you fulfillment and accomplishment in your endeavors.
    Kindest Regards

  4. MashaAllah. A very good effort to put light on the most wanted topic to be discussed in this very age the role of teachers is becoming more and more crucial.
    Well done and keep it up.

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