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Adaptation is key to building inclusive education for children with special needs

The number of children with special needs is on the rise in Singapore. With compulsory education for children with special needs starting from 2019, children with moderate to severe special needs will need to attend publicly funded schools.

Adaptation is key to building inclusive education for children with special needs

Children learning at Kindle Garden, Singapore’s first inclusive preschool. Our reader says Singapore still has a long way to go in embracing inclusion fully.

The number of children with special needs is on the rise in Singapore.

With compulsory education for children with special needs starting from 2019, children with moderate to severe special needs will need to attend publicly funded schools.

Singapore has come a long way towards building an inclusive society for people with special needs, due to the awareness created through newspapers, social media, and events such as The Purple Parade and fundraising efforts.

However, we still have a long way to go in embracing inclusion fully.

One of the key factors for inclusive education is adaptation. The present landscape of special needs education in Singapore is lacking in a customisable curriculum to meet the diverse needs of children with special needs.

Designing appropriate adaptations or modifications to the curriculum is central to inclusive education and is probably the biggest challenge that educators face today.

A baby step to take is to create inclusive classrooms with the following adaptable features, meaning they have to be flexible, relevant and adjustable to the different characteristics and needs of the students.

They should be accessible to all individuals with special needs, tailored to the strengths and needs of the learners.

The curriculum should have activities that are developmentally age-appropriate, and allow the use of multi-level teaching to take into consideration the diversity within the classroom.

The success of inclusive education hinges on the view that it is part of a system that extends from the classroom to society, and it depends on the following: The vision of the Government to make the necessary policies to protect and provide the appropriate resources for individuals with special needs; the leadership of educational administrators at the school and ministry level; the knowledge and skills of the educators; and the environment in the classroom, at home, and the public at large.

As the saying goes, it takes a whole village to raise a child.

Inclusive education for children with special needs cannot happen without the Government, educators and the public all doing their part to develop an inclusive culture for the community.

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