Inclusive education – also called inclusion – is education that includes everyone, with non disabled and Disabled people (including those with “special educational needs”) learning together in mainstream schools, colleges and universities. This means the system must adapt to include Disabled people – they should not have to adapt to the system. The education system must recognise that it creates barriers for Disabled learners, for instance if parts of the school are inaccessible. Disabled pupils and students may require adaptations and support to access the curriculum.
Here are some examples:
• Farooq is a wheelchair user. So that he can go to the debating society after school, the accessible minibus collects him at a later time.
• Jenny has dyslexia. So that she can study a book along with the class, the teacher asks her to listen to the audio book rather than reading the text.
• Milind is Deaf and communicates using sign language. Instead of taking him out of his lessons to have a separate lesson with a sign language teacher, his teachers, teaching assistants and the pupils learn to sign too in order to communicate with him.
What Inclusion is not
• Special schools and colleges just for Disabled children and students. This is called segregation.
• Separate units in mainstream schools and colleges. This is segregation too.
• Disabled children and students in mainstream education, but without enough support for them to be truly included. This is called integration. Disabled learners are in mainstream education, but their needs are not met.
• When mainstream school drafts an inclusion policy which excludes physically disabled children for admission stating the school’s limitation to provide the required infrastructure.
• When the learning needs of the students with special educational needs are not met based on their abilities.
• When the school promoters do not feel proud to say that they are a school that supports children with special educational needs.
• When there is a difference between equality and equity.