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A letter to the newspaper from a teachers veiw about the debate of accomodating children with disabilities into local schools Essay Example

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A Letter to the Newspaper from a Teacher’s View about the Debate of Accommodating Children with Disabilities into Local Schools

10th September, 2013

A Letter to the Newspaper from a Teacher’s View about the Debate of Accommodating Children with Disabilities into Local Schools

To the Editor:

David is a boy that is very delightful but is suffering from Autism. Autism is a condition in human beings in which a child finds it difficult to communicate and interact socially. Most children that suffer from Autism have normal Intelligence Quotients (IQs) in addition to the potential of becoming a success story in school. The case of David is a good example that can display this potential.

David is currently in a form one class in a local government school in his community. However, his peers and teachers keep misunderstanding him. They keep uttering that he is ‘inattentive’ and that he does not focus on what the teacher says. Hence, in more than one occasion, has received several disadvantages including physical punishment (caning). This is despite his repetitive writing to the school management and teachers giving an explanation over his condition since his early primary education. They still do not understand that he is in no way ignoring the teachers or proving to be stubborn, but suffers from autism.

In the recent past, the authorities in David’s school referred him back to a Paediatric Specialist a second time, where I happened to have met him, and made a request that David be registered as an ‘OKU’ (Orang Kurang Upaya meaning a Student With Disability), so that a transfer could be processed and he attends a special education class. It is however imperative to take into consideration that David was placed at position 130 over the total 240 students in the last Form One Examination outcomes. Out of absolute frustration, I advised the Paediatric to make a request to the school to send all the other students who scored marks that were less than what David scored, 110 in number, to be similarly registered as ‘OKU’ before he considered registering him. From this, it is evident that the issue of inclusion, despite being a simple concept, has remained a highly contentious issue in the society.

Articles that have previously been written to your newspaper agency claiming that students are supposed to be grouped in line with their ability brings forth a perception that is seriously disturbing and, if one may argue, at times a critically unacquainted view to the importance of inclusive education. This indicates that there is a lot of argument as to whether students with disability should be sent to joint schools together with their peers who have no disabilities or if the two parties need to learn in different schools, with the former attending specialised schools. Ability, as always referred to in a community, is a subjective judgement and arguing that inclusive education does a disservice to students that have disability and more specific, those that suffer from severe disability, is unfathomable, unethical and actuated by bad faith (Connor, 2007). A case such as David’s qualifies to be included at this point in time within the context because it is a sample case that portrays a scenario where members of the community are suggesting that a student be taken to a specialist school because he may not be benefiting from his current institution (Allen & Cowdery, 2011). As Westwood (2010) argues in his book, it is important that each and every teacher develops a sound understanding of the nature of each and every student’s special need in line with education and formulate a methodology through which these needs may best be met in the classroom instead of referring them elsewhere like they did to David.

In the current community, Jensenm (2013) and Connor and Ferri (2007, p. 64) both indicate that opponents of inclusive education have suggested that having children with disabilities attend mainstream schools together with their peers, apparently not disabled, would lead to teachers spending a lot of their time attending to students that have disabilities. Consequently, this would result into unequal education for both parties (Allen & Cowdery, 2011). However, it is imperative to note that Western Australia has a Department of Education, which highly believes in building a strong public school system where, ‘every school is a good school, every teacher is effective and every student successful. (Curriculum Council Act, 1997 of Western Australia).’ This is a policy that is contained in the Curriculum Council Act, 1997 of Western Australia, which indicates that the WA Department of Education would stop at nothing to provide quality education for all children, and as such, having biased time allocation for studies or even neglecting other students would not be a big issue (Allen & Cowdery, 2011).

Opponents of incorporating inclusive education in the Western Australia education system point out that too much money is spent on supporting children with disabilities in inclusive settings which would be better spent on other children (Connor & Ferri, 2007). However, of important note is that The Salamanca Statement 1994 points out that, “those with special education needs must have access to regular schools which should accommodate them with child centred pedagogy capable of meeting these needs.” In addition, The Salamanca Statement 1994 appreciates the fact that each and “every child has a fundamental right to education, and must be given the opportunity to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of learning,” and similarly “has unique characteristics, interests, abilities and learning needs.” This illustrates that despite claims that a lot of money is spend on children with special needs, they have a right to access basic education, attend mainstream schools and be offered services that cater for their special needs (Allen & Cowdery, 2011).

Further, there are postulations by opponents of inclusion that children with disabilities should take their classes from schools that have children like them and that they are not at a position to make friends with other children who are not similar to them. Some children with disabilities, more so severe brain malfunctions, end up harassing and beating young normal students, thereby causing harm. This is a suggestion that the proponents of incorporating inclusion in the Western Australia education system counter by calling it discrimination of the disabled (Connor & Ferri, 2007, p. 66). As the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 of Australia states, the rights of people with disability must be promoted in line with “education, housing and provision of goods and services”. It would therefore be wrong to deny people who are disabled the right to attend government or mainstream schools with their peers, as the same government that implements the education policies ensures that these rights are implemented to their full realization through this Act. These rights are embedded in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 of Australia, and as such must not be ignored in providing education, which is also service to the citizens. However, some parents with disabled children also fear losing the special education system which they have strived to achieve, and therefore do not approach the full inclusion.

In light of the above mentioned arguments on inclusion, it is imperative that both sides of the debate be examined. It is clear that even the staunchest promoters of inclusion are aware that it needs support services and changes in the traditional classroom to work. This far therefore, it is clear that the debate on whether to incorporate inclusion or not is a matter of justice and ethics based on the arguments. Since the society is defined by what is moral and what is not, it is justifiable to suggest that despite the disadvantages that incorporation of inclusion into the education system of Western Australia may bring to the community, it is only moral and justifiable for people who are disabled to be accorded their rights to education and not be segregated in schools, in order to be understood and allowed to develop their skills, confidence and individual potential with minimum barriers.


Allen, E. K., & Cowdery, G. E. (2011). The exceptional child: Inclusion in early childhood education. Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning Inc.

Connor, D. J., & Ferri, B. A. (2007). The conflict within: Resistance to inclusion and other paradoxes in special education. Disability & Society, 22(1), 63-77.

Curriculum Council Act 1997, Curriculum Council of Western Australia. Retrieved from http://www.slp.wa.gov.au/pco/prod/FileStore.nsf/Documents/MRDocument:6578P/$FILE/CurriculumCncilAct1997_00-00-00.pdf?OpenElement

Department of Education WA. (2013). Discovering a World of Opportunities: Priorities. Retrieved from http://det.wa.edu.au/?oid=Article-id-253705

EDUCATION, O. S. N. THE SALAMANCA STATEMENT. Retrieved from http://www.dinf.ne.jp/doc/english/intl/apddp/16.html

Jensenm14. (2013, March 4). The “Inclusion” Debate. [Web log]. Retrieved September 12, 2013 from http://jensenm14.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/the-inclusion-debate/

School Education Act 1999, Western Australian Consolidated Acts (1999). Retrieved from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/wa/consol_act/sea1999170/

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992, Parliament of Australia (1992). Retrieved from http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/dda1992264/s4.html

The Independent. (2006, March 23). Special-needs Education: Does Mainstream Inclusion Work? Independent. Retrieved September 12, 2013 from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/specialneeds-education-does-mainstream-inclusion-work-470960.html

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. (1994). The Salamanca statement and framework for action on special needs education.

Westwood, P. (2007). Commonsense methods for children with special educational needs. London: Routledge.