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Inclusion in education entails the basic practice of incorporating learners with special educational needs in the same learning setting as the non-disabled ones. There are different modes of incorporation of children with special needs into the education system with students possessing both mild and severe special needs being catered for. Unlike the popularly known notions of integration and mainstreaming, inclusion is wide and encompasses the right of a disabled child to participate in the classroom activities as the non disabled children (Sacks, 2001). The school fraternity should also accept the child wholeheartedly. Thus, inclusion does away with the establishment of special schools or classrooms to cater for students with disabilities. Here, students with special needs are accorded educational rights while still upholding their civil as well as social rights. In inclusive schools, there are neither general nor special education segments since the system is structured in such a way that all learners are taught collectively. Through inclusive education, the participation of all learners regardless of their physique and diversity is maximized. The schools are thus expected to adapt to the individual need of the students by deliberately removing all barriers that may be existing thereby providing a learner friendly environment where learning takes place amicably.
Forms of Inclusive education
Two broad classifications of inclusive education exist; the Partial and full inclusion. In the partial inclusion setting, the students learn in regular classes for the better part of the day. Nearly all help and special assistance is accorded to the students while in the general classroom. The most specialized services which can result to disruption to the rest of the students are done outside the regular classroom setting. Such specialized activities like speech and language therapy, occupational therapy are undertaken in a resource room where intensive instructions are undertaken to strengthen the students (Daniels & Garner, 2000). School administration takes the disengaged and disabled students from the general classroom at least once per week to the resource room where development of strong relations is undertaken. The students are equipped with skills to enable them cope amicably in the general education classes.
Full inclusion on contrast involves full integration of students who have special needs into the classroom (Daniels & Garner, 2000). There are no separate classes where students receive special services rather this is done in the general education classroom. Full inclusion is commonly practiced in instances where the needs of the students can be met quickly in the classroom setting. For instance, modifying the time slot to allow the disabled student complete written assignments.
Practicing Inclusive education
Common practices exist in regard to the institutions which practice inclusive education. Generally, the students are put together with their chronological age mates without special needs without paying much emphasis to the academic achievement which they demonstrate. Formation of lasting friendships is emphasized in order to promote a sense of belonging especially to the students with special needs. Formation and nurturing of relationships is emphasized whereby students with special needs are assigned a buddy without any handicap to guide them through the school and in undertaking activities such as going to the cafeteria, school bus or to the playground (Loreman et al, 2005). Through such practices, a clear demonstration that diverse people make a community is established as no student is regarded better or superior than the other. Instances where students with special needs are regarded as being helpless are done away with. Virtues such as cooperation are thus encouraged and elitism especially during later grades.
Teachers emphasize on building classroom cooperation through a number of ways. For instance, interesting games can be undertaken with vital lessons to learn. The students can be involved in solving problems and when individual differences occur, open discussions are used to deal with the problems. Consistently focusing on the strengths of the students with special needs helps in building their confidence (Loreman et al, 2005). In order to encourage classroom participation, teachers can encourage the use of physical therapy mechanisms like the use of standing frames to students who are physically challenged and are confined in a wheelchair. Students are encouraged to assist those with severe learning disabilities for instance those with visual impairment can be read for a portion of the book.
Choosing ideal students for inclusive education
Not all students with special needs can adequately fit in an inclusive education setup. Students whose disabilities exhibit severe behavioral problems which can be a physical threat and danger to the rest of the students are not ideal candidates for inclusive education (Friend, 2008). Autism is such a condition where during instances of hyperactivity other members of the classroom as well as staff members can be subjected to danger. Since inclusion should address the special needs of each student regardless of the kind of activities undertaken in the classroom, some students with such disabilities as attention difficulties, deafness, mental retardation or sensory disorders may not fully benefit from classroom learning due to distractions and instances of feeling distressed due to presence of many people. The ideal candidates for inclusion are those with mild disabilities which hold little or no influence on their academic work. For instance paralysis, epilepsy or food allergies are common cases here.
Criticism advanced to inclusive education
A lot of criticism has been advanced towards inclusive education from educators, parents as well as school administrators. It is argued that the practice of inclusive education denies students with special needs to receive individualized instruction in environments where massive control may be undertaken by special instructors (Friend, 2008). Thus students with special needs fail to achieve specialized education which adequately caters for individual needs. A child who has severe attention difficulties is at a loss when learning with active children as he or she will always be lagging behind and may elicit ridicule from the peers. Inclusive education is seen as a move to placate the stakeholders that learner with special needs are indeed receiving education while in the real sense they are not.
Educators argue that implementing inclusive education is a cover-up for the neglect by the school districts to train special education tutors thus minimal achievement is obtained. Learning as well tangible emotional development of students with special needs can only be achieved under individualized instructions in special classrooms or resource rooms (Daniels & Garner, 2000). Normally, the Parents are skeptical about inclusive education centers due to the perceived stigma and ridicule which the special-need children would be subjected to by the normal children.
Conclusion and recommendations
Despite the criticism advanced towards inclusive education, recent research has indicated massive benefits from the entire program. For instance children learn from an early age the benefit of respecting and upholding the perceived individual differences evident in children with special needs. Isolation of students with special needs from the mainstream learning lowers their self worth and esteem and they are denied the chance to have workable relationships with other members of the society (Sacks, 2001). These issues are addressed in inclusive education where working relationships are created. In inclusive education teachers and school administrators ought to ensure that various parameters are instituted in order to ensure that an individual need of every learner is observed thereby enabling them to benefit from the entire education process. Children with special needs who learn in inclusive classroom benefit from better communication as well as development of social skills. They also uphold ethical and moral principles due to the warm friendship[s they share with their classmates. Contrary to popular belief that inclusive education is an expensive undertaking, the childhood professionals already implementing the program argue that its positive support and willingness to form new relationships from all stakeholders which determine the success of the program.