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Special education class to develop students talents, potential — Mary Yap

Global news, Special Schooling

Mysinchew.com

06-01-2014

TAWAU, (Bernama) — The Special Education Class created at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Balung is believed to focus on developing the talents and potential of students according to their interests, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Chin.

She said the class, which begins today will accommodate students who need special attention to develop the skills of learning in schools.

“It also aims to develop skills and potential and teach them to be able to manage themselves and master the 3M skills namely reading, writing and arithmetic. It is also important to produce individuals who are able to be independent and successful in life and who can contribute to society and the country,” she said after officiating at the launch of the Special Education Class at SMK Balung, near here, today.

The principal of SMK Balung, Matnoor Sima, said students who attended the class are those who were weak in terms of learning, hyperactive and children who have a short attention span.

“Previously, a Special Education Class was established in SMK Kuhara but because it was far from Balung, the Sabah Education Department has taken the initiative to set up such a class here based on the needs of the students,” he said.

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Regular Education and Special Education Teacher Attitudes Toward Inclusion

Special Schooling

Eryn Hatchell A Research Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Education The Graduate School University of Wisconsin-Stout July, 2009 The history of special education and inclusion dates back to as early as 1893. In 1893, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts upheld the expulsion from a public school a child who was thought to be “weak in mind.” In 1919, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin affirmed a lower court decision authorized the exclusion from a public school district of a child who had the academic and physical ability to benefit from school but who drooled, had speech problems, and exhibited facial contortion. Trends of this nature continued into the 1960s. According to Alpers, (2002): The rights to education for children with disabilities stem from the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 and to the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968. Public pressure on elected officials and school administrators to change policies escalated as special needs students were assigned to “dummy” classes and became targets of prejudice and discrimination by peers and teachers. (p.2) In the 1970’s, two court decisions established the disabled child’s right to free appropriate public education (FAPE). In 1971, the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (P ARC) sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on behalf of retarded children who were excluded from public schools. A second case was Mills V. Board of Education. The decision from this case extended the right of free public education to all disabled children included mentally retarded, emotionally disturbed, physically disabled, and other children with behavior problems. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was enacted by Congress as a response to the P ARC and Mills decision (Daniel, 1997). The legal debate about inclusion began with the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act passed in 1975. That law is now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA states: Each state must establish procedures to assure that to the maximum extent appropriate children with disabilities … are educated with children who are not disabled and that special education separate schooling or other removalofchildren with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature of severity of the disability is such that education in the regular class with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (Alpers, 2002). This law was also amended in 1997 to help define some of the terms in the first law. Things like aids and services were defined. Related services were added and it also made the general education teacher a part of the individualized education plan (IEP) team. According to Kavale, (2000) special education within the public school system developed as a specialized program separated from general education and was embodied in the categorical “special class.” “The special class was seen as the best means for avoided conflicts while providing universal education” (p.280). In 1968, a famous article entitled “Special education for the mildly retarded: Is much of it justifiable written by Dunn began to question whether special classes were justifiable” (p.280). The Dunn article initiated an attitude in favor of change in special education. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is another important part of special education and inclusion. According to Alpers (2002), “Section 504 is important in the legal mandate of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and the use of supplementary aids and services for student with disabilities because it was used to ensure non-discrimination on the basis of disability” (p.l). The Least Restrictive Environment or LRE is the educational setting closest to the regular classroom in which a free appropriate education (F APE) can be delivered to a special education student (Alpers, 2002). Determination of the LRE has evolved through various court actions. Judicial standard of review for the LRE were established because of the legal case of Daniel RR v. State Board of Education (1989). Daniel was a six-year-old child with Down syndrome. He was placed in a general education pre-K class for half a day and an early childhood special education class for half a day. After a few months the pre-K class teacher informed the school placement committee that Daniel was not participating and failing to master any of the skills being taught. He was removed from the class and put into the early childhood class for the full day. The court ruled that the school district had properly provided a continuum of educational services and had experimented with a variety of alternative placements, and properly provided supplementary aids and services in an attempt to maintain Daniel in a general education classroom and mainstreamed him to the maximum extent possible (Alpers, 2002). Based on this ruling the court came up with a test referred to as the Daniel Standard. This test is to guide courts in determining whether schools have complied with the mainstreaming requirement of IDEA (Alpers, 2002). The Daniel Standard states: 1. Whether education in the regular classroom with the use of supplementary aids and services can be achieved satisfactorily for a given child. 2. If it cannot and the school intends to … remove the child from the regular education classroom … whether the school has mainstreamed the child to the maximum extent appropriate (Alpers, 2002) 3. . The Least Restrictive Environment mandate also brought chance to special education by making the resource model the primary placement option. “This option was defined by the resource room and special education teachers who provided academic instruction for specified time period to a special education student whose placement was the general education room” (Kavale, 2000). “Along with a continued call for inclusive placement these efforts were being termed the Regular Education Initiative (REI)” (P281). The goal of this initiative was to merge general and special education to create a more unified system of education (Kavale, 2000) A review of the literature shows that both positive and negative teacher attitudes toward inclusion can be found. Several studies (Biddle, 2006; Downing 1997; Hammond & Ingalls,2003; Leyser & Tappendorf, 2001) found that both teacher attitudes and beliefs toward inclusion can significantly influence the learning environment of students with and without disabilities. Biddle (2006) reported that negative attitudes toward inclusion can be directly linked to less frequent use of effective classroom accommodations for students with disabilities in the inclusive setting. With positive teacher attitudes and beliefs about inclusion students with disabilities will be given greater educational opportunities with their peers and will be more successful within the inclusive setting. Without positive attitudes, inclusion may become just a physical placement of students with disabilities and it will not improve their growth and development as learners. Peers of students with disabilities may also lose out on the opportunity to work productively with students with disabilities when a negative attitude exists. Statement of the Problem Inclusion of special education students in the regular education setting is a very complex and interesting topic in the field of education. Often times it is at the center of debate amongst administrators, teachers, and parents. Each person has their own ideas and attitudes about what is best for all children. The researcher feels that it is important to examine both regular education and special education teacher attitudes and concerns about inclusion. The findings from such a study will help identify the professional development opportunities and resources teachers need in order to commit to inclusion. Also, knowing teacher attitudes and concerns about inclusion will help administrators in developing a strong inclusive setting for all students and staff in their building. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to examine and analyze middle school regular education and special education teacher attitudes and opinions on inclusion. This study will attempt to document whether there is a difference in attitudes between general education and special education teachers. This study will also attempt to identify possible factors for these attitudes and opinions. The information about attitudes and opinions on inclusion gathered in this study will be used to develop in-services workshops for general and special education teachers. The results will also be used to provide additional information and literature about inclusion to the staff and administration. Click here to read more: http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/thesis/2009/2009hatchelle.pdf

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Celebrate differences

Special Schooling

On World Autism Awareness Day, April 2, Karen Guldberg, director of the Autism Centre for Education and Research, School of Education, University of Birmingham, UK, tells Tirna Ray why we need to stop seeing autism as a disorder

As far as formal education is concerned, what is the concern vis-a-vis autism in India? There are three key concerns to be addressed in India. These include the need to raise awareness, offer appropriate schooling, curriculum and interventions and offer a range of training courses for professionals and parents. It is important to increase awareness among paediatricians to enable more accurate diagnosis. Without a diagnosis, it is difficult for individuals with autism to get the right support.

What about teacher-training in India?

It is vital that teachers have opportunities to increase their knowledge about autism and about special educational needs in general. This requires short awareness courses as well as more in-depth professional development courses. In England, for example, my team and I at the Autism Centre for Education and Research (ACER) are working with the Autism Education Trust, Oxfordshire County Council and a group of providers and stakeholders across the country to develop three levels of training to be delivered to the education workforce across England. This three-tier training programme includes basic awareness training at the first level so that teachers can develop their knowledge and understanding of autism. At the second level, the training focuses on giving more practical advice and strategies to those who work directly with pupils with autism. At the third level, practitioners are offered more in-depth knowledge and practical strategies. This level is targeted at those staff who may wish to pursue a training role. Similar models to this, with training materials that are adapted to the Indian context could be beneficial. In addition , it is vital to include training on special educational needs as part of the teacher-training curriculum and at Master’s level professional development qualifications.

What are the new developments in technological teaching aids?

Most children with autism find computers and technology safe, motivating and engaging . There are an increasing number of state-of-the-art technologies being developed for children with autism all over the world, including in India. These range from software programmes for interactive whiteboards, PCs and laptops to iPads, virtual reality environments and robotics.

What kind of collaboration are you looking for in India?

The charity Hope and Compassion have set up an exchange for six lecturers from Khalsa College of Education, Amritsar. We are also planning to work closely with the college to develop qualifications in special educational needs. In addition, Springdale School in Amritsar will be funding two of their teachers to undertake a Master’s qualification through distance learning at the University of Birmingham.

What is the biggest challenge globally?

One of the important challenges we face globally is that we need to learn to stop seeing autism as a disorder. People with autism have strengths and there is so much positivity to celebrate, even though life can, of course, be difficult, for the person and also for parents and the wider family. That said, it is often prejudices and lack of knowledge that makes life most difficult. The challenge lies in ensuring our societies become better able to celebrate differences.

The Times of India, 02 April 2012

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Government schools not friendly to differently-abled

Government run schools, Special Schooling

Majority of government schools woefully lack facilities for the disabled children and are inaccessible to them says a survey conducted recently by a voluntary organisation.

Taking a sample size of 100 government schools from 22 mandals of four Telangana districts, the Network of Persons with disability Organisation (NPdO) conducted a detailed survey covering all provisions listed in the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 that accords equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation for the disabled.

The questionnaire used for the survey requires headmasters of the schools to provide details about provisions such as special transport for the disabled children, accessibility to toilets, availability of ramp and disabled-friendly furniture, availability of specially trained teachers, special appliances and special education material, grant of scholarships, and details about the existence and functioning status of Parents and Teachers Committee.

“There is not even one school which is equipped to ensure that the needs of the disabled children are met. No school building is disabled-friendly with facilities such as ramp and wheelchair. It is in total violation of the act which enjoins the government to make provisions for transport, removal of architectural barriers, supply of material, scholarships and others,” says Tulasi Das Borade from NPdO.

Many heads of the schools were not aware of scholarships for disabled students, and quite a few schools didn’t have the relevant application forms. In the absence of facilities, parents of the disabled children choose to keep them at home, some times locking them indoors.

This largely explains why nearly 900 children are out of school in these mandals of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Ranga Reddy and Warangal districts. This state of affairs goes quite against the spirit of the centrally sponsored scheme Integrated Education for the Disabled Children. The scheme is designed to integrate children with disabilities of mild to moderate nature in normal schools. It offers 100 per cent financial assistance for transport facilities, books and stationary, uniform, instruction material, assistive equipment, hostel facility within school campus, and removal of architectural barriers, among others. Special educators appointed under Rajiv Vidya Mission who ought to pay door-to-door visits to impart home-based education to severely disabled children have remained largely ineffective in majority of the cases.

“Each special educator is supposed to cover 18 children whom he will visit by turns. But many educators are covering only children who stay nearby, and leaving out those staying in interior locations,” says Mr.Borade. Several educators also hold a second job, which renders fulfilment of their primary job an eyewash, he says.

The Hindu, July 15, 2011

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Embracing difference

Special Schooling

Ibrahim Patkar, 10, and his classmate Afdar Khan, 11, are locked in battle, playing ‘stone paper scissors’. Elsewhere in the classroom Amanjot Singh, 11, and Manish Kadam, 12, are shifting in their seats waiting for class to begin. While Patkar suffers from muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound, Singh is visually challenged and Kadam is mildly autistic.

This isn’t a special school, but it certainly is a unique one. At Gurukrishan High School in Santacruz, this class 7 classroom fully epitomises diversity at school.

It is a beautiful situation we have in our school,” said Rekha Vijayakar, the school’s director. “We first admitted a child with muscular dystrophy some years ago as an experiment. Now we have eight such differently-abled students at school. And all the children benefit from the mixing.”

Some other schools in the city follow other kinds of diversity policies. Father Agnel School in Vashi conducts its admissions based on a lottery system to ensure student representation from all kinds of backgrounds. Kamla High School in Khar, makes a particular effort to accommodate those from lower economic backgrounds, including the children of peons and rickshaw drivers.

These children excel – they work harder, they have great aspirations and the opportunities they get drive them to do well,” said Rekha Jagasia, the principal.

For some years now, these and other schools in the city have been actively building composite classrooms. However, the Right To Education Act that came into force in April this year aims to replace such individual endeavours with a large-scale initiative.

A clause in the Act mandates that all schools will have to reserve at least 25 per cent of their seats at the entry level for neighbourhood students from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes those with physical disabilities.

The state government has issued several orders operationalising different clauses in the Act, but it is yet to do so where the issue of reservations in private schools is concerned.

Discussions are on between the state government and the centre as to budgetary provisions and so on,” said a state government official. “We are working on the process of implementing this clause. But since the clause is mentioned in the act, schools should be prepared to implement it.”

In the absence of clear directives, in the meantime, unaided schools have said they are waiting and watching. “There is no clarity yet on the issue as the state government is yet to bring out a resolution on the clause,” said Husein Burhani, academic director of D.Y. Patil International School in Worli. “As admissions season will begin now, we will need clarity or else schools will have to go ahead and conduct admissions based on the existing rules.”

Tremors of dissatisfaction have already rippled through the private school firmament in other parts of the country, suggesting that the way will not be easy. Before the Act kicked in on April 1, a Jaipur forum of unaided schools filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the 25 per cent clause, stating it impinged on the jurisdiction of unaided schools.

In July, a school in Bangalore issued a circular to parents of its students on the “dangers” of the Act, a circular it repealed after an outcry. (See box)

Some parents might be worried about their children sharing a bench with a poorer student but I personally feel that the best learning takes place in a diverse environment,” said Seema Parekh, whose children study at Villa Theresa and St Mary’s.

Research has borne out the benefits of inclusive classrooms. “When children are exposed to difference in their formative years it makes them more tolerant, more accepting human beings,” said Reeta Sonawat, head of the human development department at SNDT Women’s University, who has studied the positive impacts of a heterogeneous classroom.

Some have, however, raised concerns about integration in terms of the language, class and social divides that children will have to bridge.

With the new legislation hopefully the landscape will change, but of course, there will be issues,” said Varsha Hooja, a trustee of Adapt (formerly known as the Spastics Society of India), a city non-profit group working on different kinds of inclusion. “Will the class divide be bridged? Will there be discrimination in schools? There is so much that the curriculum takes for granted, so children will have to be sensitised.”

Opinion

Kamala Mukunda, teacher at Centre For Learning in Bangalore and author of What Did You Ask At School Today? There will be various challenges when it comes to implementing this clause in the Right To Education act.First, schools will have to bridge cultural differences. They will have to ensure that students who come in through the quota do not feel disadvantaged compared with their better-off classmates. Second, language will be an issue. Third, home support will also be an issue. Some groups have made suggestions about conducting bridge courses to enable children to get the extra help and additional classes that they might need. In the short term, there will be difficulties. The implementation will depend on the school’s sensitivity and, equally importantly, on that of the other children’s parents. It will take time and effort, but in the end it should be implemented in a meaningful fashion for all students.

Bhavya Dore, Hindustan Times Mumbai, October 04, 2010

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Delhi RTE Drive starts with 30 mobile schools

Right to Education, Special Schooling

Ganesh Kumar is just 12 years old, but has no time for school. “Tell me, when do I go? I am working,” says the teenager from Bihar who earns a living by selling magazines at a traffic signal till dusk everyday. After a day of running behind cars, pleading with commuters to buy a magazine, he returns home, tired and sleepy. The routine starts again the next day.

Ganesh is among the thousands of children in the Capital who are out-of-school, working at traffic signals, construction sites or just begging in various parts of the city. With the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act coming into force from April 1, the Delhi Education department is working on plans to to bring these children to school.

The department has decided to start 30 mobile schools in the city to cater to children of migrant labourers, those working at traffic signals and those from red light areas.

“Delhi being the Capital, there are a lot of migrant labourers coming into the city. That add to the increasing number of out-ofschool children. The 30 mobile schools, to be started this year, will cater to these children,” Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely told Newsline. “I do hope Delhi will be the first state to implement RTE,” he added.

The city already has two mobile schools. “They were launched as part of the pilot project in February 2008,” said an official of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), which is executing the project. “The initial proposal was for 25, but looking at the increasing number of out-of-school children, the number was been increased to 30.”

The department has also empanelled 30 NGOs to run these schools. “The buses will be stationed at red light areas, traffic signals and construction sites,” said Lovely, adding that the students “will later be brought into the mainstream”.

Maroosha Muzaffar, Indian Express, 7 May 2010

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