25 January 2008

Inclusive education

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar 'Education for All Flagship on the Right to Education for Persons with Disabilities: Towards Inclusion Regional Workshop in Asia' sponsored by UNESCO. There a few flagships designed so that resources and people form a network, this one being about people with disabilities. It was interesting to see what is going on in the region. It seemed that there were more special education programs available in Cambodia than in Laos. Someone raised concerns that aid money was not getting to Cambodia because the government won't work without bribes and went to Africa instead. Actually, it is the same with the Sweden and Lao. They are a pulling aid out of many countries including Lao and want to focus on Africa. It was mentioned that during the Pol Pot regime 70-80 % teachers died. Starting at year zero with zero teachers, students and schools, there are now 100,000 teachers, 3.5 million students and 900 schools.

People are still battling attitudes in this region. Some Thai guy found a kid that was 11 years old with a disability in a chicken cage. Another found a kid with cerebral palsy at home alone. Neither had ever gone to school, but in the short time this guy saw that these children could do things by themselves given the opportunity.

Some key points
  • Inclusive education is about ensuring the right to education and providing the resources needed by the individual to be educated
  • Everyone has limitations and some learn faster, some slower. Inclusive education is about acknowledging diversity and including them all.
  • People with disabilities may need education from a young age to prepare them for school. For example, deaf children should be taught sign language from a young age so that they have language skills like hearing children when they start school.
  • Home based and/ or informal education is important and should be supported
  • Sometimes you need to push on with implementing inclusive education because you will never have all the resources you need.
  • The world is with a diverse range of abilities. If children with disabilities are in mainstream education children will learn to appreciate diversity and include people with disabilities in their work and activities as they get older.
  • Sometimes it is not suitable for people with disabilities to be in mainstream education because it may be difficult for the school to get adequate resources to meet their educational needs
  • Children learn from each other, not just from the teachers so it is important to consider them as a resource in education.
  • Children have the right to free, compulsory education that is available, adaptable and accessible.

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