The Inclusion of Inclusive Education in Teacher-Training: Issues of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Staffing

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The Inclusion of Inclusive Education in Teacher-Training: Issues of Curriculum, Pedagogy and Staffing

Introduction
UNESCO has defined inclusive education as the opening up of ‘schools, centre of learning and educational systems…to ALL children. For this to happen, teachers, schools and systems may need to change so they can better accommodate the diversity of needs that pupils have and (ensure) that they (the pupils) are included in all aspects of school life. It also means a process of identifying any barriers within and round the school that hinder learning, and reducing or removing these barriers.

Inclusive Education is therefore a process, a product and a philosophy – a growing body of approaches, strategies and methods, a desirable outcome, and a distinctive way of thinking about educational issues. The National Curriculum Statement for Papua New Guinea defines inclusive education similarly (Department of Education 2003, p.18), and emphasises its importance within the new National Curriculum, asserting the new curriculum is an inclusive curriculum as it is ‘designed to meet the needs of all students…’ (ibid, p.18). However the Statement also points out that the curriculum must be taught inclusively, in ways that encourage pupils to participate fully in learning activities (ibid, p.19). Why is inclusive education seen as so important, both internationally and in Papua New Guinea? Firstly, it addresses the weaknesses of under-achieving education systems. In Papua New Guinea, many children, particularly girls, drop out of school (Webster 2004a, p.11) and others are not yet literate although they have completed primary school (Webster 2004c, p.11). If schools in Papua New Guinea were more inclusive, there would be lower drop out rates and higher standards of attainment as schools would be more responsive to pupils’ educational needs. Secondly, there are strong ethical arguments for inclusive education. Christians believe they are commanded to follow Christ’s example and care for and respect the most vulnerable members of society, particularly children. Traditional Melanesian values reinforce this message (Narakobi 1980, pp.58-59). International organisations, such as the United Nations, drawing on human rights theory, argue that all children possess basic entitlements - including the right to an education, which must be defended and protected (Abercrombie, Hill & Turner 2000, pp.299-300). While these standpoints have emerged from different cultural and philosophical traditions, they provide the ethical bedrock for inclusive education. Teachers have a moral obligation to do their very best for every child in their class, and government and non-government organisations and society as a whole should support their efforts. As inclusive education is at the heart of the new National Curriculum and important in its own right, it is vital that teacher-training institutions (TTIs) raise their students’ awareness of IE. In this paper, I will outline some ways in which they could do this. I will discuss issues of curriculum (what students in TTIs need to learn), issues of pedagogy (how IE should be taught in TTIs), and issues of staffing (who would teach IE in TTIs). I will then discuss the implications of these for other organisations working in the field of education. 2. Outcome-Based Education and the Teaching of Inclusive Education in TTIs Outcome-Based Education (OBE), which is also at the heart of the new National Curriculum, says we should first identify the ‘knowledge, skills, attitudes and values’ (the outcomes) that we want our students to ‘achieve or demonstrate’ (Department of Education 2003, p.4) and then ‘build and design a curriculum from there’ (Spady 1993, p.2). This pragmatic and focused approach is appropriate for the development of an IE curriculum for TTIs, as it is for the development of any courses. What outcomes do students need to ‘achieve or demonstrate’ to become effective inclusive teachers? In...
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