“Inclusion the dictionary, a delusion is an

“Inclusion is a delusion” in the context
of Education is a statement that suggests the failure of an inclusive policy
aimed at addressing schools’ inability to cater to the needs of children with
diverse needs. UNESCO views Inclusion in Education as  “a dynamic approach of responding positively
to pupil diversity and of seeing individual differences not as problems, but as
opportunities for enriching learning.” It is not only a change in organisation
and policy but also in philosophy. In their view, countries must define and
adopt a set of inclusive principles supplemented by practical ideas to
transition towards an inclusive society. According
to the dictionary, a delusion is an idiosyncratic belief or impression
maintained despite being contradicted by reality or rational argument. The
above statement suggest it is a deception. Creating a successful inclusive
classroom is the new challenge for Hong Kong schools. Can they provide
appropriate arrangements to promote inclusion ? What are the benefits ? What are
the results ? What are the positive outcomes in the long term ?

Hong Kong’s demographic structure is
changing and there is a need today to reconsider social policies in order to
better cater to the diversity of children at schools and in the community. With
the new 2017 curriculum, Hong Kong school must adopt a child-centered approach.
Inclusion in Education is an approach that implies that children with diverse
needs and children with special needs can join inclusive classrooms instead of
attending special schools. Inclusive schools do not separate general education from
special education. Instead, schools organise differently so that all students
can learn together, To achieve this, teachers must show the attitudes and
values that come with diversity and inclusion. They must also equip themselves
with the necessary skills and knowledge to do their job better. The goal is to
understand children’s individual needs and to develop their strengths, gifts
and potential.

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Schools that offer an inclusive
environment help promote children’s physical, emotional and cognitive development.  By considering their individual learning
needs, teachers can strengthen their motivation and interest in learning,
inspire them and instill curiosity in them. That way they can also become
lifelong learners. Motivated, children feel more confident and develop a sense
of satisfaction and accomplishment. In order to achieve tangible, positive and
measurable results, teachers must design flexible curriculum to better adapt to
the variety of situations. They must also diversify their strategies to help
develop sound judgment, show alternative ways to reach a particular goal and
help consolidate children’s learning. By growing up in an inclusive
environment, children can learn to respect each other and help each other by
living and learning together. As a result, they learn to live in society, share
common positive values and learn to become active members for the betterment of
Hong Kong.

Good practices must go beyond the
kindergarten. Primary school teachers could take a closer look at the learning
portfolios and assessments of their students to have a better understanding of
what they’ve learnt and the difficulties they could face. Parents should be
encouraged to help in this process by being truthful and honest about their
child’s abilities and needs. Schools should also strengthen their relation with
parents by organising regular activities and meetings in the classroom or in
the form of conferences and workshops to help them understand their children’s
needs in a new classroom and in a new school. They can also guide them and show
them how they can better support their child.

The Hong Kong bill of rights guarantees
that all resident children are born equal in rights and duties. Therefore,
schools and families should work together to create an inclusive environment
for all and promote inclusion. Moreover, children are entitled to receive a
quality education regardless of their background, culture, race, gender or
ability. As a results, schools are important agents of change in attitudes and
mindsets in society. They should devise policies that embrace diversity and
inclusion in the curriculum planning and its implementation. The pace of
learning should be adjusted and teachers should adopt a differentiated approach
to better cater to the diverse abilities and needs in learning. Adjustments to
the curriculum, when and if needed, is therefore very important. They could
take the form of adaptations, accommodations and modifications. Teachers should
consider different learning modes such as learning by experimenting or learning
by exploring. Teachers could also arrange whole-class, or small group or
individual teaching with the children and design games, activities and teaching
aids aimed at facilitating and promoting learning. Teachers could also use
daily observations to adjust their assessment of children’s abilities, level of
confidence and achievements as no two children are alike. Mixing backgrounds,
accepting and celebrating differences could help facilitate development and can
be of benefit to everyone.

For children with potential
developmental difficulties or in need for special education, teachers can seek
professional knowledge to communicate and work closely with colleagues and
parents. Early identification and intervention can help. So teachers should
take the necessary steps as early as possible to inform parents and make
referrals for professional assessment and advice.  The Department of Health, the EDB and the
Social Welfare Department have published a guide called the “Pre-primary
Children Development and Behaviour Management – Teacher Resource Kit” to help
teachers identify children with special educational needs as early as possible.

The critics of inclusion in education
argue that general education classroom do not offer individualized instructions
or highly controlled environments for children with significant special needs.
So, in a classroom of 20 to 30 children, the teacher is unable to cater to
their needs. As a result, they could fall behind. So, inclusion is a nice
concept but hardly possible to make it happen successfully. To make it work,
teachers should be trained to help cater to the needs of those children. They
should also meet with the parents to discuss the needs of their children, to
develop follow up plans, and if necessary, and with parents’ approval, seek
assistance, advice and intervention from professionals such as medical staff,
social workers, therapists and other practitioners.

There are many benefits to Inclusive
Education. Children are able to develop strengths and talents. They can work on
individual goals while participating in the life of a general education
classroom with children of their own age. They can make friends with a wide
variety of children with various backgrounds. They learn to accept and respect
differences and minimise case of harassment and bullying. They positively
affect the way the school operate and the community in general. They help
foster stronger relationship between the school and parents. They help develop
home-school partnerships. They help foster a culture of caring and inclusion
for the betterment of society in general.