What do we mean by “inclusivity”? What does it mean to you?
Inclusivity in education refers to “enabling all school-aged children to learn together, providing appropriate support regardless of their individual needs.”
There was an old belief that “inclusivity” meant “including children with disabilities” in “regular” classes attended by children without disabilities.
This article suggests that “inclusivity” means more than that. It includes children with disabilities, such as those with vision or hearing problems, those who cannot walk, or those who learn slowly.
However, “inclusivity” also means including all children who have been excluded or neglected from school. These children might not speak the language used in the classroom, or they may be at risk of dropping out of school due to illness or hunger. They may not be making good academic progress or belong to a different religion. They might be pregnant girls or boys who should be in school but are not, especially those who work at home, in fields, or elsewhere (migrants) and those who work to support their families.
Inclusivity means that as teachers, we have the responsibility to seek and provide support (from school bodies, the community, families, educational institutions, health services, community leaders, etc.) to teach and include all children under a community umbrella where they feel the freedom of thought and are added modern educational methods.
Additionally, in some communities, all children may be enrolled in school, but some may still be excluded from participating and learning in the classroom. For example, they might be children who have received a lesson or a book in a language other than their first, or who have never been asked to participate or never offered to participate. Some may not be able to see the board or the book or hear the teacher or learn well and have not been offered help.
These children may sit at the back of the classroom and may soon leave the school collectively (dropout). As teachers, we have a responsibility to create an educational environment that ensures the learning of all children. We demand that each child be treated in a manner that makes them feel contained and loved, wanting all children to learn and be included in our classes and schools.
Do you think we can provide benefits to children from inclusive education in the classroom? Can you think of ways to help them?
Think about your school
Does the current context in Syria allow for inclusive education in schools in general? Does your local community promote and encourage inclusivity? If yes, how does that work? Does your school promote, encourage, and apply inclusivity? If yes, how does that work?
Let’s think, dear reader, can we look at inclusivity differently by thinking about children’s rights? Do children have rights? If yes, what are those rights?
Children’s rights are the same human rights for children with special attention to the rights of protection and special care given to minors. This includes the right to bond with both parents and their human identity, as well as their right to basic needs such as food, free education throughout the state, healthcare, and appropriate criminal laws for a child’s age, development, and equality in protecting a child’s civil rights and protection from discrimination based on race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, color, and other characteristics.
You, the teacher, must think about what you can do to enhance children’s rights!
Education is a right for all children. Adhering to these rights enables communities to protect future generations and guide them on the right path, including them under a safe community roof that offers them kindness to grow with an outstanding mindset and enlightened thinking that better serves the community.
Children who are supported in learning can overcome adversities and disadvantages, including learning difficulties and disabilities.
Families can better face adversities and disadvantages if a child’s full rights of respect and participation in education are taken.
Communities can recover from crises faster if mechanisms exist to support vulnerable children. Ultimately, this benefits the nation because we care for its foundational element that will become the future’s teachers, thinkers, and defenders of humanity.
Debunking the Myth
Girls do not need education as much as boys. Boys are smarter. Poor children prefer to leave school and
help their families.
Skills are not suitable for girls – they are too shy.
People with special needs prefer to get things easily.
People with special needs are inferior…
What does it mean for your class to be inclusive and learner-friendly?
“Inclusivity” includes children with disabilities such as those who have difficulties in seeing, hearing, cannot walk, or are slower in learning.
But “inclusivity” also means including all children, including those neglected or excluded from school. These children may be at risk of dropping out of school due to illness, hunger, poor academic performance, or because they belong to a different religion or sect. They could also be girls at risk of early marriage and pregnancy, and all girls and boys who should be going to school but are not, especially those working at home, in the field, or elsewhere (displaced people) and those who go to work to help their families live.
“Inclusivity” means that we, as teachers, have a responsibility to obtain equitable support and strive to provide it for children and harness our energy to facilitate and find resources that support and strengthen this approach that serves the largest human resource in society, the children.
Detailed Results on Assessing Inclusivity in Syria Inclusivity and Learning
Teachers were asked to identify and rank groups in order of most exclusion. The marginalized and excluded groups are children with disabilities, girls, poor children, those with weak abilities, and displaced people. They were also asked to identify reasons for these groups’ exclusion.
Children with Disabilities
The most repeated answer for why children with disabilities are excluded is that they “feel inferior.” Some mentioned “shyness” and “disability” as reasons for exclusion.
Three or four answers pointed to a lack of specialization and skills to improve inclusivity of children with disabilities in school and class. It was also mentioned that financial support for the families of children with disabilities is important as an incentive for achieving inclusivity.
Teachers identified a culture of preferring boys and early marriage for girls as the most common reasons for excluding girls. They also pointed to shyness as a reason for exclusion.
Teachers pointed out that a lack of resources to meet children’s basic needs is one of the reasons for exclusion – 69% of teachers said that children sometimes come to school hungry. The stigma of being poor also contributed to their exclusion.
Children with Weak Abilities
Teachers identified reasons for exclusion as low self-esteem, parental neglect, and the inability to acquire new knowledge. Most teachers were unable to define inclusivity correctly. The lack of experiences and materials available in class were identified as obstacles to achieving inclusivity in class, and 63% of teachers said there were not enough books for proper teaching, and 57% said that despite having space for group work, the number of students was too large to manage these activities.
Changes to Become an Inclusive and Learner-Friendly
Environment Striving for change requires energy, openness, and readiness to think and diverge in ideas. If teachers have other local responsibilities or many administrative tasks related to teaching in school and attending frequent meetings, they may feel they do not have the time or energy to ensure and continue the process of change.
Teachers may not understand the meaning and importance of an inclusive and learner-friendly environment or think they lack the necessary resources to make the environment inclusive and learner-friendly.
Parents or even teachers may not realize the benefits of an inclusive and learner-friendly environment and the many advantages it brings to their teaching methodology concerning the learner’s interest. They may have fears about the negative impact of the other group of children in the school on their children.
Becoming an inclusive and learner-friendly school or class is a significant challenge, but you can show that there are always ways to overcome it and reconcile the path to reach your goal.
And now, the challenge is to test our solutions to make the class inclusive and friendly for learning. We need to accept that everyone is capable of learning and that each person has their own teaching path and in building this reformed environment.
If children are instilled with the belief that their talents and abilities are not fixed but reflect what they learn and that they are capable of learning through effort and diligent work – this leads to progress and prosperity at all levels.
It falls to us, the teachers, to create an environment that encourages inclusivity and is friendly for learning and constructive for the individual, allowing for the continued learning of students with different and varying abilities because each of them has a distinctive contribution.
To make the class inclusive and friendly for learning, we need to accept that all students, regardless of their gender, are capable of learning and that each person has a specific learning curve that increases and decreases based on the level of intelligence they possess.
So, to create an inclusive and learner-friendly class – we must have an open mindset to the importance of growth
and help each person in their learning curve. To do this, we need to teach in a way that takes everyone into account. Let’s start!
No child has “weak learning” when the right conditions are provided. All children can learn effectively, especially when they “learn by doing.”
For many of us, we learn best through “experiential learning,” which is through activities and cumulative experience. This is what we mean when we talk about “interactive learning,” “children’s participation in learning,” or “collaborative learning.” It involves children learning new information through activities and different, novel teaching methods, often linked to their practical life experiences. This connection helps them understand and remember what they learn and then apply it later in their lives.
We, the teachers, need to innovate and create different ways of learning using various teaching methods so that all children can understand the information we teach and be able to learn in a meaningful way, especially those children from diverse backgrounds and abilities.
Using varied teaching methods leads to more reflection, prosperity, and more job satisfaction. The starting point is trying to prepare an interactive lesson where different roles are distributed among students, and creating creative points to stimulate children to invent ways to reach the information or achieve the lesson’s goal.
We can use blocks, models, and other objects to teach mathematics, which involves children’s fine motor skills and precise visual understanding, along with the use of visual models to reinforce the lesson’s idea.
I encourage children to talk (or write) about ideas and processes in mathematics, which connects their verbal thinking and understanding of mathematical concepts. I ask children to draw pictures for stories we read to them, and the imagination that creates fun in the mind then adds neural brain connections between their visual thinking and the words and events in the story, or play the roles of characters in plays or reading stories.
Guiding children to make maps of the area surrounding the school connects their experience of moving in space with visual, mathematical, and geographical concepts.
When children count their community and identify existing problems, using their skills cooperatively to propose solutions, they learn how to apply what they learned in school. Moreover, this teaching method not only helps the community understand the work of the school but may also increase their motivation to support the work of teachers.
Do you agree?
Written by: Teacher Mahmoud Al-Saloum – Leader of the School Education Program at Masarat Initiative