“When inclusive education is fully embraced, we abandon the idea that children have to become ‘normal’ in order to contribute to the world. We begin to look beyond typical ways of becoming valued members of the community, and in doing so, begin to realize the achievable goal of providing all children with an authentic sense of belonging.” -Norman Kunc
According to Inclusive Education Canada, Inclusive education is about ensuring access to quality education for all students by effectively meeting their diverse needs in a way that is responsive, accepting, respectful and supportive.
The Maternal and Child Health Bureau define special children as
“Those who have one or more chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions and who also, require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally”
They include the disabled, the disadvantage and the talented and gifted ones. It is known that the marginalization of these sets of people in the educational sector often leads to a lifetime marginalization in society.
Types of Inclusive Education
Partial Inclusion: Here, special children are excluded from the general classroom to have special sessions with their assigned teachers to develop their academic skills. For example, In a certain school, special students ( the vision impaired) have their own classroom, special seats in the dining hall, special exemption for the general school activities, special dormitories e.t.c
Full inclusion: All students regardless of their physical, emotional, behavioral or mental state are in a regular class as other able-bodied children. They are also included in all school activities together with their peers
Some objectives of Inclusive Education are:
That everyone in the school system should have a sense of belonging and thus be accepted and supported by others.
That education should be equal
No segregation in a setting of any type should be allowed, as all children should be encouraged to participate in all indoor and outdoor curricular activities.
That environment should be well structured with instructional materials to facilitate individual development of learners
In Nigeria, there is a policy for the education of special people in the National Policy on Education which states that “the education of children with special needs shall be free at all levels and all necessary facilities that would ensure easy access to education shall be provided e.g. Perkins brailler, speech trainers, hearing aids and, psychological toys”. However, this policy is yet to be implemented to its maximum capacity. But we can make it happen if we join hands to advocate for proper implementation of inclusive education in Nigeria
To end this, we need to ensure that these sets of children are not socially stigmatized. They are humans like us and therefore be given the privilege we have if not more.
Food for thought: As a parent, would you be comfortable if special pupils are in the same class as your child?