Inclusive education is designed to meet the individual needs of everyone and is based on the principle that all students, regardless of their abilities, should be included in the same educational programmes. It is often seen as a way to improve educational outcomes for everyone and to reduce the achievement gap between different groups of students.
Inclusive education is not a new concept, but it has only recently gained popularity and it is now being implemented in schools around the world. Many states have adopted policies and regulations to support inclusive education, including training courses, placement of qualified teachers and financial support to purchase tools and applications to help those who have difficulties in studying.
Inclusion requires the theacher to believe that all students have something important to offer in the classroom and that we really are better off learning together.
Inclusive education benefits everyone and can improve educational outcomes for all students, not just those with disabilities or learning disorders, because it helps to create a more supportive and inclusive school environment. It helps prepare students for success in an increasingly diverse and globalised world, where respect and solidarity are essential values.
When students with difficulties are included in the same classes and activities as their school peers, they have the opportunity to develop important social and communication skills. They also benefit from the same academic teaching and curriculum as their classmates, which can help them bridge the achievement gap that often exists.
On the other hand, when students are exposed to classmates with different abilities, they learn to appreciate the diversity of the human experience, they also learn to develop empathy and compassion for others and to see beyond stereotypes and preconceptions. Inclusive education can help break down barriers between different groups of people and create a more tolerant and inclusive society.
In the past, students with difficulties were often segregated from their peers and placed in special classes, isolated from the real world and removed from their obstacles. However, research has shown that students with difficulties benefit from being included in general classes, so inclusive education is now based on the principle that all students, regardless of their abilities, disabilities or learning disorders, should be included in the same educational environment. This means that students with difficulties should be included with the necessary supports and accommodations to help them succeed.
Inclusive education has faced many challenges in the past, including resistance from some teachers, administrators and parents. Some were concerned that creating inclusive environments could slow down the progress of lessons, penalising classmates, others worried that children with difficulties could become victims of bullying and not fully integrate into the school environment, with major consequences on the development of the individual and his or her education. There were also difficulties in providing adequate resources and support to ensure that all students had all the necessary tools for learning.
Some ways to ensure that all students have access to inclusive education include:
- Providing adequate funding for schools so that they can afford to hire the necessary staff and provide the necessary resources.
- Providing training for teachers and school staff on how to effectively teach and support students with special educational needs.
- Creating awareness among parents and the general public about the importance of inclusive education and the benefits it can bring to all students.
- To use compensatory tools and instruments that can help students with difficulties to cope more confidently with their schooling.
Many of these factors are not within the control of families or individual schools, but require massive interventions by governments and states.
In some cases, however, it can be very useful to adopt tools and apps to overcome difficulties. For example, the use of concept maps and mind maps to help those with Specific Learning Disorders, such as dyslexia, is gaining popularity in Europe. Maps are meant to simplify long texts and allow those who have difficulty reading to understand study topics more thoroughly. Another widely used tool is speech synthesis, which accompanies students in reading and understanding text.
One of the most widely used platforms in Europe is Algor Education, which includes in a single environment a collaborative concept map and mind map editor, highlighted speech synthesis (which underlines read words in real time), and modern artificial intelligence features that aid in map creation. Several subscription plans are also available to give anyone access to the tools they need.