People with Down syndrome often experience mild to moderate delays in their cognitive and physical development and research has shown that educational and therapeutic interventions (such as early intervention services) can greatly benefit learners with Down syndrome. Careful consideration, supports and early planning are often necessary to facilitate education, and that too.
Inclusion is a philosophy of education based on the belief in every person’s inherent right to fully participate in society. It implies acceptance of differences and access to the educational experiences that are fundamental to every student’s development.
Children with special needs like Down Syndrome have the right to receive schooling in mainstream schools. Thus, the inclusive classrooms let all students learn what it means to be a full member of a school community. All students are valued learners; all are respected for their individuality. Each member contributes and each member benefits.
When effectively implemented, research has demonstrated academic and social benefits for all students – both those who have special needs as well as typical students. Friendships develop, typically-developing students are more appreciative of differences and students with disabilities are more motivated. True acceptance of diversity will ultimately develop within the school environment and is then carried into the home, workplace, and community.
Unfortunately, this concept of inclusive education is not too prevalent in Pakistan, with only a handful of private institutions providing admissions to children with disabilities, that too, at the expense of the parents. Considering the benefits of inclusive education, it is really not asking a lot from our educational institutions to make a few modifications to their present setup to facilitate the inclusion of children with special needs in regular classrooms. All it really needs is a change in the mindset and attitudes that such children can and should be a part of mainstream schooling. There are a few educational institutions in Karachi which operate on the model of inclusive education. Should you be interested in acquiring a list of inclusive schools in Karachi and their contact details, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
KDSP hopes to be a strong voice in advocating for the right of children with Down Syndrome to have access to quality education as well as assisting schools and educational institutions to develop systems and in order to make the transition towards inclusive education as undemanding as possible. This includes training teachers on how to create the most appropriate environment for their students with Down Syndrome as well as assisting schools and parents to develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs) i.e. an education plan with an adjusted curriculum to accommodate the extra needs of the child.