EOC urges the Education Bureau to strengthen support for Integrated Education
Members of the Policy and Research Committee (PARC) of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) met with the Deputy Secretary for Education, Mrs. Betty Ip, today (18 December 2012), to advocate for adequate resources, training and support for Integrated Education.
Following the release of the Study on Equal Learning Opportunities for Students with Disabilities under the Integrated Education System (the Study) in November 2012, the meeting is part of the Commission’s efforts to urge the Education Bureau (EDB) to re-examine its policies and practices in the pursuit of equal learning opportunities for students with special educational needs. The EOC aims to bring to the Government’s attention the barriers and inadequacies of the existing Integrated Education System in Hong Kong.
Convenor of the PARC, Dr. John TSE Wing-ling, said, “Despite having operated the Integrated Education policy for over 15 years, Hong Kong is lagging behind in providing equal opportunities to students with special education needs. Without adequate support in training of educators and policy implementation, students with special needs in mainstream schools face many obstacles.”
The EOC’s Study reveals that only a quarter of principals and half of teachers had attended special education training courses or training in inclusive education, and only about 2% had a professional diploma or degree in special education. Up to 61% of the principals and 43% of teachers remained unwilling to accept students with special education needs, while two-thirds of teachers and more than half of principals did not see excluding these students as discriminatory.
“Whether students might benefit from Integrated Education depends on how the system is organized and how support is implemented. Within the inclusive schools, students with special needs should receive whatever extra support they may require to ensure their effective education. This is in line with the spirit of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, which seeks to ensure that students with disabilities have equal opportunities in education,” Dr. TSE emphasized.
In light of the Study, the EOC made a number of recommendations to the EDB, including the early identification of students with special needs, increasing resources and manpower, providing more training for teachers and principals on equal opportunity values, creating a caring campus with the adoption of an anti-bullying policy and promoting public awareness on the Integrated Education policy.
“In order to do justice to the thousands of students with special needs struggling for survival in mainstream schools, the Government should lead the charge to increase both manpower and resources for the effective implementation of Integrated Education,” Dr. TSE added.
Other PARC and EOC Members attending the meeting included : Ms. CHAN Ka-mun, Carmen; Dr. KOONG May-kay, Maggie; Ms. Agnes LAU; Mr. Behzad MIRZAEI; Mr. Amirali Bakirali NASIR; Mr. Zaman Minhas QAMAR; and Dr. Sandra TSANG Kit-man.
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Equal Opportunities Commission
18 December 2012