“There is no disabled learner, only teachers are” –this was the teaching-learning principle from one of our mentors that left an indelible mark in my heart and mind as an educator.
Inclusive Education happens when children with and without disabilities participate and learn together in the same classes. Research shows that when a child with and without disabilities attends classes alongside peers who do not have disabilities, good things happen.
In my first hand experiences as a student in a university with strong advocacy and full implementation of Inclusive Education, I have proven the validity of these good effects of this type of heterogeneous grouping of learners. Peer tutorials and collaborative learning are some of the strengths that are evident which boost the confidence of learners with special needs when they are in the same regular sections. On the other hand, the creativity, efficiency and patience of educators, parents and administrators are also manifested and utilized. I have former classmates in Algebra who were deaf and mute which I volunteered to tutor. It was a challenging yet fulfilling experience. I know basic sign language which made it easier for me to connect to them but there were moments when I felt that I was the one who have learning disability because it was really hard for them to understand the concepts in Algebra that I was teaching them. As days went by, I enjoyed sharing short periods of peer tutorial with them. Even if they had difficulties in Algebra, at least they have increased their number of friends which helped decrease their insecurities, worries and fears. This is because they know that I was always there to assist them in their home works and remedial lessons.
Now that I am faced with my learners who are academically challenged because of learning disabilities, I still hold on to the faith of how IE can make differences in the teaching-learning process. I am very grateful for the continuous opportunities to innovate intervention materials and improve teaching practices in order to address individual needs of these learners. Through the workshops, trainings, graduate program studies, action researches and administrators ’monitoring, IE is no longer a foreign educational thrust. However, despite of these teaching learning opportunities, I am still in the state of dilemma about IE because of the challenges of its technicalities, resources, funding, time management and collaboration and communication with stakeholders.
In the study of M.A. Muega about IE in the Philippines, the results reflected the fact that very little is known about the practice of educational inclusion in the Philippines. Further, he discussed that the participants are not rejecting the IE but they are not certain whether their involvement in it has given rise to best inclusionary practices. Perhaps it is not unreasonable to further conclude that participants could not tell for sure whether they are succeeding or failing in their attempt to embrace IE within their respective schools. The following three implications of the study were stated: 1.There are no criteria to answer the issue; 2. They do not consistently practice IE; and 3.They do not know what to do exactly.
At present, the entire Philippine education system is lacking in the knowledge and resources required for high quality inclusion. I believe that beyond this fact are continuous improvement projects, summits, bill legislations and researches are at hand and on their way to achieve the quality Inclusive Education in the Philippines. JOCELYN R. BUMANGHAT, Camp 6 Elementary School, Baguio City
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