PS Education highlights challenges and principles to achieve Inclusive Education
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development (MEHRD) Dr. Franco Rodie has highlighted challenges and key principles to achieve an Inclusive Education in the country.
PS Rodie highlighted this when he officially opened the three-day Inclusive Education workshop at the Heritage Park Hotel on Tuesday, 8th August.
Organized by the School Services Division within the MEHRD in partnership with UNICEF, the workshop focused on the key findings and recommendations of the Pacific Regional Inclusive Education Review Report.
The Report was launched in November 2023 in Suva. Currently 15 Pacific Island countries are planning the implementation of the new Pacific Regional Inclusive Education Review “to ensure all children, including those living with disability and out-of-school children, have equal access to quality learning.”
The Review was conducted to advance understanding of the situation of inclusive education in the Pacific Island countries, foster cross-country learning and sharing, as well as strengthen partnerships, planning, decision-making and action at both regional- and country-levels.
Some key findings of the Pacific Education Review are that challenges in accessing quality education in the Pacific are related to factors such as gender, disability, remoteness, ethnicity, language, migration, sexual orientation and gender identity.
There are wide gaps that exist between policy aspirations and implementation. For instance, a single officer within the Ministry of Education takes up multiple responsibilities. Also, there are limitations on both teachers’ aides’ availability and their skills to fulfil their roles. There is still more work to be done to improve access to education for children with disabilities, or special needs, to name a few.
PS Dr. Rodie highlighted four common challenges experienced by each country with the implementation of inclusive education.
He said the first challenge is that no country has yet succeeded in constructing an effective school system that lives up to the ideals and intentions of inclusion, as defined by different international organizations.
Another challenge PS Rodie mentioned in developing inclusive education is that there is a mismatch between students’ learning outcomes and teacher competencies for inclusive pedagogy. He stated that research conducted in many education jurisdictions across the globe including the Pacific Island countries is that “the quality of teaching and learning processes in inclusive education has lower priority.”
He adds that there appears to be “deep uncertainty about how to create inclusive environments within schools and about how to teach inclusively.
“There seems to be gaps between formulations and realizations of inclusive education,” he said.
Furthermore, he said the current debate is no longer about what inclusion is and why it is needed; the key question is how inclusive education can be achieved.
In addition to the success and challenges the ministry continues to face in the implementation of inclusive education, he emphasized that we adopt principles mentioned in the literature on inclusive education.
“Our efforts towards inclusive education should be guided by every action, statement, policy or publication that should honour and promote the principles of: “respect, dignity, equality, diversity, human rights, justice, self-determination, mutual responsibility, inclusion and moral courage,” he said.
He reiterates that to build on an inclusive future, we should collectively recognise the pivotal role that well-trained teachers play in shaping the lives of our children today.
“We must invest in continuous professional development for our educators, equipping them with the tools and knowledge necessary to meet the diverse needs of all learners.
He said creating inclusive schools requires us to foster a culture of inclusivity and embrace a variety of learning styles.
“We must develop support systems that recognize and address the individual needs of students, providing reasonable accommodation that ensures every child can access quality education,” he said.
He calls on staff of the MEHRD and other line ministries to work collaboratively as a team to harness and overcome the challenges and create a truly inclusive education system.
He encourages the participants to embrace this opportunity to think, plan and envision a future where every learner’s potential is realized.
The discussions of the workshop focused around Pacific Regional Inclusive Education Review, Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities, Review of Individual Education Review, Solomon Island country profile on inclusive education, Inclusive education framework, accelerating inclusive education, curriculum resources, NGO contribution to inclusive education, the role of special school’s workforce development, and inclusive education implementation plan.
Meanwhile, he acknowledged UNICEF for funding the review on the Pacific Regional Inclusive Education.
Attending the workshop are stakeholders and representatives from the Civil Society Organization, Head Teachers, Faith Organization, USP SI Campus, SINU Faculty of Education and Humanities, MEHRD and other line ministries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
The workshop will conclude on Thursday 10th, August, 2023.
– MEHRD PRESS