Inclusivity in Education

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world"
- Nelson Mandela

Cambridge dictionary defines inclusivity as the quality of trying to include many different types of people and treat them all fairly and equally. On Saturday, 19th June 2021, UNAIR held an Inclusion day webinar in which discussions focused on academic accessibility through the eyes of those who have physical and mental disabilities. 

Inclusivity is an important value in education. Indonesia has guaranteed its citizens to obtain an education. However, more than 50% of kids with special needs (Anak Berkebutuhan Khusus) in Jawa Timur did not go to school and only a small percentage went to Inclusive School. More often than not, schools still separate between disabled and non-disabled, and even then, separate special needs schools generally have specific target impairments such as blind and deaf. People with disabilities are often overlooked in policymaking, making them prone to facing barriers to education stemming from those discrimination and stigma. 

There is an urgent need to provide people with disabilities with necessary and personalized support to ensure they get the proper education they deserve. In inclusive education, people with disabilities should have the same opportunity and experiences as their peers. According to Wuri Handayani, Ph.D. (one of the speakers), who is a lecturer in Faculty of Economics and Business Universitas Gadjah Mada, here are the key elements of inclusive education;

Reasonable Adjustment

The crucial duty of the university is to provide reasonable adjustment and proper accommodation for students who are at disadvantages to avoid such disadvantages. Universities need to provide a wide range of support since everyone’s needs are different. This includes academic and non-academic support. Academic support includes different materials, rest periods, screen reading software (JAWS), and braille books. They also might require a notetaker or an interpreter, and neurodiverse people might need extra time for tests and assignments. Non-academic support such as housing, personal evacuation procedure, and personal assistant for domestic matters is also necessary.

Anticipatory Duty

Universities should not wait for demands to make a change. Rather, they should actively look for all possibilities and constantly improve alteration policies, practices, and procedures in advance. The university must establish a disability service unit (ULD) to ensure that students do not suffer substantial disadvantages and raise awareness for everyone.

We are currently going through a slow but sure process of being inclusive. (Rosalinda et al., 2013) The main challenges of creating inclusive education in higher education are the social barrier or negative attitude, followed by a physical barrier and insufficient special learning materials. Supports mentioned above should be accessible everywhere in this country. 

There is still so much to do to achieve inclusivity in education and in all parts of society, and for our part, we can start by raising awareness for this matter. There is a stigma on how people with disabilities are too limited and how expensive their needs. This stigma should be erased. Investing in people is never too expensive.

Writer: Amalia Prameswari

Editor: Hasna F