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Thaboshi Inclusive Botswana > Front page > Uncategorized > DEMYSTIFYING INCLUSION IN EDUCATION
  • Posted by: Shirley Nkepe

INCLUSION in Education, popularly known as Inclusive Education is a system whereby learners who have disabilities and other special needs attend the same schools and classes with those who are considered ‘normal’. The schools attended are called mainstream schools – meaning that they are general education (not specialized) schools.

IN an inclusive education system, the structures (e.g. infrastructure; curriculum; teaching and learning methods; testing and measurement procedures), personnel, and resources are adapted to accommodate all learners regardless of their abilities or disabilities. This is unlike in special education, and the earlier model (clinical model) where the people (so-called abnormal, because of their disabilities and special needs) were required to adapt to the structures, in order to fit in. Today, with inclusion, the structures and not the people, are supposed to be adapted to meeting the need/s of the individual people.

Instructor teaching braille by guiding student’s hands over it.

BESIDES having a disability or a serious condition or special need, learners are classified under disabilities and special educational need if they require services which are over and above that provided to the general school populace. That is, if they fall beyond the normality curve (as they would say in Statistics). These people comprise those:

  • with minor, moderate to severe disabilities (e.g. Deaf of Hearing Impairment; Blind and Visual Impairment; Speech and Language Disorders; Intellectual and Learning Disabilities; Mental Retardation; Behavioural Disorders; Physical/Mobility Impairment; and Emotional Distress)
  • living with chronic illnesses such as Sugar Diabetes; Heart Illnesses; HIV and AIDS; Asthma
  • Going through extended medical procedures or operations- which may take them off school for a long period of time.

This means that one would fall in special needs category due to the following conditions:

  • Language barrier (e.g. refugee foreigner students)
  • Extreme poverty
  • Coming from a minority, vulnerable or marginalised social group
  • Delayed developmental process
  • Disability
  • Chronic illness or medical condition
  • Identity Crisis

NEEDLESS to say, the most important thing in inclusion is not to diagnose and label people or even try to provide treatment (clinical model), as is often the case in schools. Rather the most important about inclusion and its purpose is that people (especially learners) are fully accepted, respected, and given due support. It is only when these people receive these and are empowered with the right knowledge and skills that they will be able to express themselves optimally and realize their full potential. Any structure that takes interest in diagnosing and labelling the people does not represent inclusion, and it must be discarded immediately.

Author: Shirley Nkepe

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