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    12 December 2010


    By Didi Tarsidi,
    Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI)

    Education is one of the human rights that is protected and guaranteed by various international and national legal instruments. The document Education for All (Jomtien World Declaration, 1990) wants to make sure that all children, without exception, gets an education. However, in Indonesia, for instance, according to the data released by the Ministry of National Education in 2002, only about 7.5% of children and youth with disabilities receive schooling. This implies that a radical educational reform has to take place if drastic change in educational output is to be made to achieve the goal of Education for All. Inclusive education is believed to be an innovative educational approach that can promote the education opportunities for all children with special needs including those with disabilities.

    With regards to the educational reform, this paper will discuss the followings:
    - Education as a human right;
    - Inclusive education as an educational ideology and approach,
    - Review on inclusive education in practice, and
    - The implementation of inclusive education in Indonesia.

    I. Education as a Human Right

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (United Nasions, 1948), Article 26 confirms that Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages, and elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
    Despite this basic principle, Children and adults with disabilities are frequently denied this right. Lobbying by disability groups has ensured that subsequent UN Human Rights instruments make specific mention of people with disabilities, and emphasise that ALL persons with disabilities, no matter how severe their disabilities are, have a right to education.

    Specific mention of disability is indeed made in The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Article 2 of the convention commands to respect and ensure the rights of each child without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of his or her condition including disability. Article 23 specifically stipulates the rights of children with disabilities, including the rights to decent life with ensure dignity, special care to meet his/her special needs, various services to ensure his/her achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development. Concerning education, paragraph 3 of article 23 states that Recognizing the special needs of a disabled child, assistance … shall be provided free of charge, whenever possible, taking into account the financial resources of the parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and receives education …”.

    In the decades following the Universal Declaration, much faith was placed in creating universal education. However, it soon became apparent that there was a very big gap between the ideal and reality. In the 1980s, the growth towards universal education not only slowed down, but in many countries actually went into reverse . It was recognised that ‘education for all’ was not just going to happen automatically. (stubbs, 2002).

    The Jomtien World Declaration on Education for All in Thailand in 1990 tried to address some of these challenges. It went further than the Universal Declaration in Article III on “Universalizing Access and Promoting Equity”. It stated that educational disparities existed and that many different particular groups were vulnerable to discrimination and exclusion. These included girls, the poor, street and working children, rural and remote populations, ethnic minorities and other groups, and particular mention was made of people with disabilities.

    Although the term ‘inclusion’ is not used in Jomtien, there are several statements which state the importance of ensuring that people in marginalized groups should have access to education in the mainstream system.

    • Jomtien re-stated that education is a basic right for ALL people
    • It recognised that particular groups were excluded and stated that “An active commitment must be made to removing educational disparities… groups should not suffer any discrimination in access to learning opportunities..” (Article III, paragraph 4)
    • It stated that “Steps need to be taken to provide equal access to education to persons of every disability category as an integral part of the education system.”(Article III, paragraph 5)

    The UN Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) consists of rules governing all aspects of the rights of persons with disabilities. Rule 6 focuses on education and agrees with Jomtien that persons with disabilities should be educated as an integral part of the mainstream, and that States should have responsibility for the education of persons with disabilities. Rule 6 promotes inclusive education (called ‘integrated education’ at that time). The key points are:

    • The UN Standard Rules emphasises that the State should take responsibility for the education of persons with disabilities, and should
    a) have a clear policy,
    b) have a flexible curriculum,
    c) provide quality materials, and on-going teacher training and support.
    • Inclusion is promoted with some key conditions; it should be properly resourced and of high quality – it should not be a ‘cheap option’
    • Community based programmes are seen as an important support to Inclusive Education.
    • Special education is not ruled out where the mainstream system is inadequate, and for deaf and deaf/blind students. (Rule 6, paragraphs 8 and 9)

    The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) reconfirms the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties are obliged to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels (article 24). To facilitate their full and equal participation in education and as members of the community, the CRPD mentions the specific compensatory skills that persons with disabilities are entitled to have including Braille, orientation and mobility, sign language, augmentative and alternative modes of communication

    II. Inclusive Education as an Educational Ideology and Approach

    The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education (1994) is still today the key international document on the principles and practice of Inclusive Education. It outlines several pioneering and fundamental principles of inclusion that have not been discussed in previous documents.

    Some particularly core inclusion concepts include:
    • Children have a wide diversity of characteristics and needs
    • Difference is normal
    • Schools need to accommodate ALL children
    • Children with disabilities should attend their neighbourhood school
    • Community participation is essential to inclusion
    • Child-centred pedagogy as central to inclusion
    • Flexible curricula should adapt to children, not vice versa.
    • Inclusion needs proper resources and support
    • Inclusion is essential to human dignity and the enjoyment of full human rights
    • Inclusive schools benefit ALL children because they help create an inclusive society
    • Inclusion improves the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the education system.

    One paragraph in Article 2 provides a particularly eloquent argument for inclusive schools: “Regular schools with this inclusive orientation are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all; moreover, they provide an effective education to the majority of children and improve the efficiency and ultimately the cost-effectiveness of the entire education system”

    III. Review on Inclusive Education in Practice

    There are an increasing number of examples of good practice in inclusive education in a range of cultures and contexts (Stubbs, 2002). Although inclusive education is not a blue print that can be transported from one culture to another, there are many lessons that can be learnt particularly where the barriers that are faced and resources available are very similar.

    Listed below are the activities and support systems commonly found where successful inclusion has occurred. (The Council for Exceptional Children, 193).
    1. Attitudes and Beliefs
    • The regular teacher believes that the student can succeed.
    • School personnel are committed to accepting responsibility for the learning outcomes of students with disabilities.
    • School personnel and the students in the class have been prepared to receive a student with disabilities.
    • Parents are informed and support program goals.
    • Special education staff are committed to collaborative practice in general education classrooms.

    2. Services and Physical Accommodations
    • Services needed by the student are available (e.g., health, physical, occupational, or speech therapy).
    • Accommodations to the physical plant and equipment are adequate to meet the student's needs (e.g., toys, building and playground facilities, learning materials, assistive devices).

    3. School Support
    • The principal understands the needs of students with disabilities.
    • Adequate numbers of personnel, including aides and support personnel, are available.
    • Adequate staff development and technical assistance, based on the needs of the school personnel, are being provided (e.g., information on disabilities, instructional methods, awareness and acceptance activities for students, and team-building skills).
    • Appropriate policies and procedures for monitoring individual student progress, including grading and testing, are in place.

    4. Collaboration
    • Special educators are part of the instructional or planning team.
    • Teaming approaches are used for problem-solving and program implementation.
    • Regular teachers, special education teachers, and other specialists collaborate (e.g., co-teaching, team teaching, teacher assistance teams).

    5. Instructional Methods
    • Teachers have the knowledge and skills needed to select and adapt curricula and instructional methods according to individual student needs.
    • A variety of instructional arrangements are available (e.g., team teaching, cross-grade grouping, peer tutoring, teacher assistance teams).
    • Teachers foster a cooperative learning environment and promote socialization.

    However, The Agra seminar (that brought together over 40 practitioners of inclusive education who worked in a range of economically poorer countries in the South), resulted in the following conclusions about the practical potential of inclusive education:
     Inclusive education need not be restricted by large class sizes;
     Inclusive education need not be restricted by a shortage of material resources;
     Attitudinal barriers to inclusion are far greater than economic difficulties;
     Specialist support should not be school-based;
     Inclusive education can provide an opportunity for school improvement;
     Alumni with disabilities and their parents have much to contribute to inclusive education;
     Inclusive education is part of a larger movement towards social inclusion.

    IV. The Implementation of Inclusive Education in Indonesia

    The process towards inclusive education in Indonesia was initiated in early 1960’s by a couple of blind students in Bandung with the support of the organization of persons with visual impairments as a pressure group. During that time special schools for the blind only provided educational service up to junior high school level, after which blind youths were given vocational training on handicrafts or massage. A number of blind youths insisted on pursuing higher level of education and tried to enter regular high school in spite of resistance from the part of the regular school. Perseverance of the blind youths managed to change the attitude and a couple of students were accepted, and their success had made more and more high schools and eventually also universities (though very slowly) open to blind students.

    In the late 1970’s the Government began to pay attention to the importance of the integrated education, and they invited Helen Keller International, Inc. to help with the development of integrated schools. The success of the project had led to the issuing of the Letter of Decision by the Minister of Education, 1986, stipulating that capable children with disabilities should be given the opportunity to attend regular schools together with their non-disabled peers. Unfortunately, when the integrated education project was over, the implementation of integrated education was practiced less and less, especially in primary school level.

    However, towards the end of 1990’s new efforts were made to develop inclusive education through a cooperation project between the Ministry of National Education and the Norwegian government under the management of Braillo Norway and the Directorate of Special Education at national level. In order not to repeat the past experience with the integrated education programme that died out, attention has been paid to the sustainability of the programme of implementing inclusive education.

    The strategy of the programme is as follows:
    • Dissemination of the ideology of inclusive education through seminars and workshops;
    • Expanding the role of existing special schools to include function as resource centres to support inclusive schools (with teaching equipment, learning materials, methodology, etc.);
    • Upgrading/training special school teachers as well as regular school teachers to enable them to better serve children with special needs in inclusive settings;
    • Reorientation of teachers education at universities and involvement of universities in the programme;
    • Decentralization of policy making to give more role to local governments in the implementation of inclusive education;
    • Encouraging and facilitating the formation of working groups to promote the implementation of inclusive education;
    • Involvement of NGOs and international organizations in the programme;
    • Networking among various parties involved;
    • Setting up pilot inclusive schools;
    • Establishment of the master programme in inclusion and special needs education.
    • Acvocacy for the issuing of a national regulatory instrument on inclusive education.

    The most readily observable outcomes of the efforts are as follows:
    1) A number of workshops and seminars on inclusive education, both at national and local levels, have been organized, involving educators and education administrators.
    2) A number of special schools in different provinces have been selected to be resource centres and their role as resource centres are slowly taking shape while maintaining their role as special schools. In addition, a number of other special schools have been designed to function as supportive centres.
    3) Some universities have started introducing inclusive education as a subject or as topics in other related subjects to their students.
    4) Faculty members of a number of universities have been involved in workshops or seminars on inclusive education.
    5) Provincial Offices of Education have been more proactive in promoting inclusive education.
    6) Working groups on inclusive education has been formed by a number of provincial as well as municipal education authorities.
    7) UNESCO has been actively involved in the promotion of inclusive education in a number of provinces.
    8) In 2002, 27 pilot inclusive schools were set up in 9 provinces. In the subsequent years more and more inclusive schools have been established.
    9) A Master Programme in Inclusion and Special Needs Education has been established at the Graduate School of the Indonesia University of Education (UPI), Bandung, West Java, with technical assistance from the University of Oslo. The programme started in 2003 with 18 students with scholarships from the Project. After the project was finished in 2005, the programme continues to develop steadily with the annual enrollment of 15 to 20 students each new academic year. Up to 2010 the programme has been enrolling over 100 master students.
    10) In 2009, the Ministry of National Education issued the Ministerial Regulation on Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities and the Gifted (Permendiknas 70/2009). The regulation stipulates, among others, that the municipal government is to appoint at least 1 primary school and 1 junior high school in each district and at least 1 senior high school or vocational school in each municipality to implement inclusive education while also to encourage other schools to do the same.
    11) In February 2010, the Ministry of National Education reported that 20 to 25 % of children and youth with disabilities have received schooling, both in special and regular schools (Kompas, 2010. This is a dramatic increase compared to 7.5% in 2002.

    The ultimate goal of all the innovative efforts above is the well being of persons with disabilities as citizens with all their rights fulfilled. Whether or not the current placement of children with disabilities in regular schools will actually be good for their well being, it needs time to prove this; but we believe it will and we are hopeful as long as they are being given proper support as designed for them.


    Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations General Assembly resolution 44/25, 20 November 1989
    Johnsen, B. H. & Skjorten, M. D. (2001). Education - Special Needs Education: An Introduction. Oslo: Unipub forlag
    Kompas (2010). SLB Butuh Perhatian Khusus. Harian Kompas, February 24, 2010.
    Rogers, E. M. with Shoemaker, F. F. (1971). Diffusion of Innovation. New York: The Free Press.
    Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, forty-eighth session, resolution 48/96, 20 December 1993
    Stubs, S. (2002). Inclusive Education Where There Are Few Resources. Oslo: The Atlas Alliance.
    Tarsidi, D. (2003). The implementation of Inclusive Education in Indonesia. A paper presented at The 8th International Congress on Including Children with Disabilities in the Community. Stavanger, Norway, 15-17 June 2003.
    The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Adopted by tnited Nations General Assembly, 13December 2006.
    The Council for Exceptional Children (1993). Including Students with Disabilities in General Classrooms. ERIC EC Digest #E521. The ERIC Clearing House on Disabilities and Gifted Education.
    The World Declaration on Education For All (1990). Meeting Basic Learning Needs. Jomtien, Thailand: The World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF & UNDP.
    World Conference On Special Needs Education: Access And Quality (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. Salamanca: UNESCO &Ministry Of Education And Science, Spain


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