Inclusive Education| Literature review

Origin of Inclusion

Inclusion may be argued to have been an issue that has been at the basis of education systems for decades. With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 26) recognizing education amongst the basic human rights many countries evaluated ways through which such right would be afforded to traditionally marginalized groups. Special programs were thus developed as a way to ensure learners with special needs could access this education right. In these early stages the distinct programs for learners with special education needs were thus viewed as a solution rather than a problem to ensuring the clamor for education to all was achieved (Florian, 2008). As sociological research gained ground however arguments were raised that such special programs segregated the learners from the community thus ultimately bore negative outcomes to individuals they purported to help (Florian, 2008). A way for normalization and integration of these programs into the regular education systems was therefore argued necessary to avoid what was perceived to be “discriminatory” learning practices (Michailakis & Reich, 2009). With this need being identified a way through which such could be achieved was advanced in mainstreaming.

For mainstreaming the concept was that the disabled persons who could keep up with able students could join regular classrooms (SEDL, 2010).  Subsequently however   laws such as the 1975 “All Handicapped Children Act” passed by U.S congress demanded access to public education for all students with disabilities (Public Law 94-142). Other countries such as Sweden followed suit with the Education act demanding enrollment of children with intellectual disabilities in regular classes (Skollag, 1985 as cited in Michailakis & Reich, 2009). These latter advancements thus delinked the enrollment of the disabled to regular classes from their ability to keep up with their able peers. With time the need for incorporation learners into general classrooms was represented in “The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education” (UNESCO 1994). According to the statement; persons with “special educational needs must have access to regular schools which should accommodate them within child centred pedagogy capable of meeting these needs” (P. viii). Inclusion thus became way through which interaction of able and disabled learners in at least some lessons was perceived to help in developing higher mutual understanding among these learners in school and later in life (Michailakis & Reich, 2009). With such advocacy, however the challenge to inclusion concept continues to be whether access translates to equity – or participation – in education (Florian, 2008). While access may be conferred by the various legal provisions that have come up; participation may not be an easily achievable component of inclusion where some students may require individualized training (Florian, 2008). Go to part 5 here

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