EOC Announces Findings of the Study on Equal Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities under the Integrated Education System
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) today (Thursday, 22 November 2012) announced the findings of the “Study on Equal Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities under the Integrated Education System”, which was conducted by the Centre for Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education of the Hong Kong Institute of Education from September 2010 to November 2011. The Study consists of a quantitative questionnaire survey with 5,136 respondents from 230 schools and qualitative case studies which feature interviews with 475 stakeholders from 20 schools.
The Study aims at understanding the general attitudes of the stakeholders such as educators, students with special educational needs (SEN), regular students and parents towards the Integrated Education (IE) Policy and discerning the difficulties they encountered with respect to students with different categories / degree of disabilities. Furthermore, it aims at soliciting the stakeholders’ opinions on how to implement the IE Policy more effectively in the areas of resources allocation, professional training and gaining community support.
Key Findings of the Study
- The assessment of students with SEN, which could have life-long impacts on the students in school selection and placement, was criticized to be too sloppy and simple. For example, a parent commented that it only took half an hour for her child to be diagnosed as having Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD).
- The number of principals and teachers with special education training in schools implementing IE Policy was rather low. Only 26% of the principals had attended special education training courses. 49% of the teachers had not received any training in inclusive education. Only 1-2% of the principals and teachers possessed a professional diploma or degree in special education.
- About 20% of the principals, teachers and professionals disagreed to adopt necessary changes in physical facilities and pedagogic adaptation to cater for the needs of students with SEN. About 20% to 43% of the teachers were not willing to accept students with Intellectual Disability (ID), Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD), Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) in regular classes.
- 61% of the principals, 43% of the teachers, 49% of the professionals and 37% of the parents of students with SEN considered that the schools did not receive enough government subsidies / resources in terms of funding, teachers’ training, manpower allocation and professional support to implement IE.
- 57% of the principals, 62% of the teachers and 55% of the professionals disagreed that excluding students with SEN from regular classes was a discriminatory practice. Around 20% of the principals and more than 50% of the teachers were not familiar with the “Code of Practice on Education under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)” and “Indicators for Inclusion 2008 : A Tool for School Self-evaluation and School Development”. Most of them were not aware of the development of inclusive education and related support measures.
- Nearly half of the students with SEN (48%) revealed that their examination results were not satisfactory. Approximately 30% of the students with SEN could not grasp learning skills such as note-taking, problem-solving and learning independently. About 20% of them indicated that they could not understand what the teachers were teaching in the classroom.
- In terms of peer relationship, over 80% of the students with SEN considered that their classmates were friendly to them. Around one-third of them indicated that they had been teased (31%) and bullied (26%) by their classmates. On the other hand, some regular students indicated that they had the experience of being teased (24%) and bullied (18%).
In presenting the findings of the Study, Dr. TSE Wing-ling, Convenor of the Policy and Research Committee of the EOC, pointed out, “The Study indicates that the present Integrated Education system is far from satisfactory and the underlying problems are mainly inadequate resources, training and support.”
Dr. TSE said, “Education is crucial for the development of an individual, with or without disabilities. To work towards the effective implementation of Integrated Education, it entails adopting a mindset that respects equal opportunities for all and strong commitment from all stakeholders.”
In order to address the problems in the local IE system, the EOC has proposed the following recommendations :
- Early identification of students with SEN
Comprehensive and detailed assessment should be given to pre-school students for early intervention and therapies. The shortage of counseling professionals / educational psychologists posed great challenges to teachers in taking care of the students with SEN in mainstream schools.
- Increasing resources and manpower
The Education Bureau (EDB) should address the problems of manpower shortage, limited resources and inadequate special education training for school principals and teaching staff in mainstream schools. Pre-service and in-service teacher training programmes in tertiary institutions should include special education and inclusive education as core components.
- Teachers and principals should learn more about the equal opportunities principles
School authorities and personnel should be reminded of their legal obligations under the DDO to provide equal learning opportunities to students with SEN, including students with ID, ADHD and ASD. Schools should adopt policies that pursue the elimination and prevention of unlawful disability discrimination.
- Adopting the anti-bullying policy
The cultivation of a caring campus is essential for the implementation of integrated education. Teaching staff should share the value of education for all. Schools should promote mutual respect and zero tolerance towards any form of bullying in the campus.
- Promoting public awareness on the IE Policy
Schools should notify parents about their IE policy and support. Apart from the parent-teacher association, Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings are a good platform for communication between parents and schools. The Government should raise public awareness on the IE Policy through social media and publicity programmes.
Other than putting forward the EOC’s recommendations to the Government, the EOC would be working closely with the stakeholders to facilitate their understanding on the principles of equal opportunities in education and requirements of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance.
For media enquiry, please contact Ms. Mariana LAW at 2106-2226.
Equal Opportunities Commission
22 Nov 2012