Bernama Thoughts – – How inclusive is our inclusive education?

Opinions on current events from thought leaders, columnists, and editors.

The right to education for all has been recognized globally thanks to decades of advocacy by many institutions. For parents of children with disabilities, the wish list may be inclusive education, meaning that their child attends mainstream classrooms with peers their age.

As stated in the Special Education Regulations 2013 under the Malaysian Education Act 1996, inclusive education is education in which students with special educational needs (SEN) can attend the same classrooms with other students. It’s a program.

The purpose of an inclusive educational environment is to ensure that all students are treated fairly and have equal opportunities, which leads to respect for their diversity and uniqueness.

Many studies have been conducted both domestically and internationally to establish the importance and necessity of inclusive education.

Having said that, if we take a closer look at the educational scene in Malaysia, we find that there is a ‘zero rejection policy’ which is the Malaysian government’s initiative to ensure that the educational needs of children with special needs are met. Nevertheless, to date, inclusive education has not been adopted as mainstream educational practice, despite Malaysia’s zero-rejection policy in educational settings.

This means that the decision to provide support for students with disabilities within mainstream classrooms remains largely dependent on school leaders and teachers. This not only hinders widespread inclusive practices but also leads to instability in the quality of inclusive education provided in Malaysian mainstream classrooms.

Emphasis on entrance exams

Having trained teachers over the past 10 years, I think many stakeholders would agree that inclusive education in Malaysia is not as inclusive as it should be. Now, for better or for worse, as we all know, Malaysia’s education system is exam-oriented, which means there is a set curriculum that you have to follow and a syllabus that you have to study. Therefore, an inclusive classroom must be sufficiently and appropriately supplied with materials that cater to both groups of learners. But that’s not the case. Schools often have an insufficient supply of materials for special needs children, who are often separated from typically developing children in the same classroom for a variety of reasons.

The most discussed reason for the lack of inclusion is the lack of trained special needs teachers. Many studies and many practitioners acknowledge that intern and graduate teachers do not fully understand the needs and methods of supporting students with special needs. A common sentiment is that teachers need to be familiar with differentiated curricula so that they can respond to the needs and different abilities of the children in their care.

Speaking with a teacher who teaches students with special needs, I was intrigued by her confessions about how her views on inclusive education have changed over time. was. An advocate of inclusive education, she strongly believes that for now, inclusive education is only in the literature and not in practice. She added that depending on the type of disability, some students struggle with the exam-based education system, and that different disabilities, whether academic or non-academic, require different supports in the classroom.

Therefore, it is not only unfair to both typically developing children and children with special needs in the same environment, but also to the expectations that cater to such diverse learners and their needs. It’s also unfair to teachers who are

Parents are now well aware of the nature of Malaysian education and schooling system, yet they choose to enroll their children with disabilities into mainstream education. Why is this happening? Many parents seek to create a positive and beneficial learning environment for their children and one where their children feel “accepted.”

Education is not a test, but an attempt to provide children with special needs with an equal opportunity to develop their skills and develop a sense of belonging to their community. This is essentially what all children need: to learn how to celebrate uniqueness and embrace diversity.

partnership

The successful implementation and quality of inclusive education fundamentally requires a good partnership between parents and schools, namely teachers.

Teacher training institutions therefore play a major role in ensuring that teachers are responsive to the realities on the ground. Many institutions have some modules related to special education, which is great, but the focus is primarily academic. Many teachers only learn the skills they need on the job.

To address the shortage of trained teachers, these institutions have strengthened the way they deliver their curriculum and are actively collaborating with relevant NGOs, SEN parent associations and SEN center therapists within their capacity. need to work together to provide a more practical approach to classroom learning. .

Therefore, it is important for educational institutions to ensure that these partnerships give student teachers a multifaceted exposure, so that when they enter the workforce, they not only have the passion and knowledge, but also the skills they need to be inclusive. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are able to do so.

The fundamental concern now is the expectations of what inclusive education should look like. What is surprising is the variation in both expectations and understanding by various stakeholders of what is the best inclusion for the child in question. Of course, this is a dilemma with no clear solution.

Inclusive education cannot be achieved tomorrow, but we can start working towards it. Each stakeholder should come together and consider the educational goals they each want to achieve. This reveals how different stakeholders view inclusive education, providing insightful information for moving forward.

Through the active participation of various stakeholders, challenges can be adequately addressed and progress can be made towards the success of quality inclusive education. Until then, let us do our part as citizens and advocates to raise awareness about the need for proper inclusive education in Malaysia.

— Bernama

Revati Ramakrishnan is a senior lecturer in the School of Education at Taylor’s University. She is also the Permanent Secretary of the Malaysian Council for Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE) and a Train the Trainer (TTT) certified trainer. Her research interests include special education, aspects of socio-economic status, and teacher training in early childhood education.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)

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