Teachers’ Role in the Proclamation of Inclusive Education in Hong Kong: Challenges and Inspirations

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Teachers’ role in the proclamation of Inclusive Education in Hong Kong: Challenges and Inspirations
Introduction
Nowadays, when we talk about students with special education needs (SEN), we are no longer focusing on how special education schools treat the SENs for their learning. We address to the issue inclusive education because the public believes every child should share the same fundamental right to learn in a ‘normal’ classroom and education should be provided to cater the wide diversity of learners’ characteristics and needs (UNESCO, 1994). As a result, inclusive Education has been introduced to the Hong Kong Education system since the pilot study carried out in 1997. Now, there are different in-service and supporting schemes for schools (e.g. the 3-tier intervention model and Learning Support Grant since the school year 2004/05) to cater the learning needs of these groups of students. However, Inclusive education has been a controversial topic among the scholars and the educators owing to the lacking support and the contradictions with particular schools’ learning culture and parents’ expectations, in particular among Asian parents. It is believed that every student has the same rights to learn in the same context, and it is the schools’ responsibilities to provide students with special education needs with fair chances in the school for them to learn and live. In this essay, the teacher’s role and responsibility under the current Hong Kong education systems, especially for its inclusive education will be discussed. In unveiling the attitudes that teachers share in facing the challenges, suggestions are given to provide more comprehensive teacher’s training for pre-service teacher to tackle SEN students in their prospect career. About inclusive education

Inclusive Education, which can be defined as the system ‘about embracing everyone and making a commitment to provide each students in the community, each citizen in a democracy, with the inalienable right to belong’ (Villa & Thousands, 2005). In other words, all students, no matter they are brighter in academic achievements, looks better in appearance, or have special education’s needs are treated in the same way in order to provide them with same education chances. The inclusion of schools was first introduced to the school systems for handicapped students and later on developed to most SEN students with different psychological or physical impairments.

In this way, schools have been changed to cater the learner diversities. Physically, more equipment and machinery aids, e.g. lift and FM receivers, have to be fixed in the school for some physically impaired students’ need. In terms of the teaching content, the school has to modify the curriculum and pedagogy; the allocation of SEN students in different classes would also be considered. A lot more technical issues in relation to the administration and the teaching strategies in the school would be affected.

However, there are some opponents towards inclusive education because students do encounter problems when they are admitted to the mainstream schools. Some students still find being discriminated owing to their special need in the classroom; some feel that they could not communicate with other people in the school context (Shelton, 2006). Some even might find difficult to catch up with the study and give up. Different social problems might exist and bring about the drawbacks of the inclusion of schools. History of Inclusive Education in Hong Kong

Prior the discussion of the teacher’s role, the historical background of inclusive education in Hong Kong is first addressed. The idea of inclusion has been started since the 1970s in Hong Kong when the government tried to mainstream learners with disabilities to public education, in accordance to the learners’ rights (Poon-McBrayer & Lian, 2002). Years after in 1997, a pilot project was funded and facilitated by the Education Department to explore the...
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