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Integration?

Special Needs – Integration into normal schools, or not? Ideally, all children should be given the same educational opportunities. Practically, it is not always possible or even desirable. A child who is not able to cope in a normal class knows that he is not able to do what his peers are doing, and so he withdraws into himself and stops trying to follow the class, or he expresses his frustration by becoming disruptive, aggressive and uncooperative. Both are understandable reactions which have to be dealt with for the good of the child and the whole class. In many occasions, if we are honest, we will admit that if the child does not disturb the class, he is left to his own devises, and falls further and further behind. The teacher is responsible for a whole class and cannot sacrifice her precious time to help the one slow learner. If the child is disruptive, he demands a more active response from the teacher who will talk to the parents – who already know that the child has a problem but do not know how to deal with it either. The child will be punished, disciplined, but the problem will not be solved. No-one really wants the child in the class – not the child himself, nor the teacher, nor the other pupils, nor the parents who hear the complaints. However, a special needs class /school does want the child and recognizes his strengths rather than his failings. He is not compared with anyone else but is assessed according to his own abilities. He no longer has to do age appropriate activities but is given realistic tasks that he is able to do well and gain satisfaction from. Experience has shown that the majority of children transferred from primary to a Special needs environment very quickly change their negative behavior once they find that they are no longer a ‘failure’. They gain self-confidence and pride in their work, and become responsible, helpful, polite children. Maybe they will not achieve academic heights but they will grow up to be contributing members of our society, equal to their peers.