Inclusive Education: Benefits and Disadvantages of Inclusion

Abstract

The role of inclusion in furthering the objectives of education for students with special educational needs is debatable. This paper aimed to assess the benefits and disadvantages of inclusive education by reviewing literature on the topic. Although inclusion bears some positive outcomes with respect to social aspects of education such as improving perceptions of disabled students in the community thus enhancing relationships; its role in improving academic performance is not clear. Since disabilities in students are diverse and unique; presence of special programs could augment the positive effects of inclusion for those students whose disability severity prevents effective instruction in general classrooms even when modifications have been carried out. Improving general teachers’ skills through training and exposure to an inclusive schooling setting during early years may however provide ways through which inclusion outcomes may be ameliorated.

Introduction

Developing efficient policies through which learners with special needs can be integrated into general education classrooms is a major challenge for education systems globally. Part of the challenge arises from the debate as to whether inclusion bears positive or negative outcomes both to the subjects and the system. While at one end the advocacy is for all children to be integrated into same classrooms as their peers irrespective of extent of disability; at the other end is an argument that special education classes would better outcomes for exceptional children whose needs are beyond the tact of a general teacher (McCarty, 2006). The middle ground in these arguments is that which agrees on the importance of having special education programs but also a method for inclusion for the disadvantaged learners where deemed fit (McCarty, 2006).

Secondly what fuels the inclusion debate is lack of a specific delineation of what inclusion constitutes and how such is to be carried out (McCarty, 2006). For instance though legislative framework might provide for disabled children to receive appropriate education or be integrated into general classrooms; the issue of full inclusion i.e. whether inclusion involves incorporation for a whole day in general classrooms still remains unaccounted for (McCarty, 2006). Such inclusion or non inclusion may be based on the nature and severity of the disability. In the United States for instance the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act only allows separation or any form of removal of disabled children from regular learning environment when nature and extent of disability precludes satisfactory learning with supplementary aids and services offered (Public Law 108-446, 108th Congress, 2004, p. 2677). This paper thus evaluates the case for and against inclusion of challenged learners into general classrooms. The benefits and disadvantages of inclusion are evaluated with a review of literature being presented to evaluate whether inclusion has better outcomes to the subjects and the education system. Go to part 2 here.

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