Inclusive education finds no place in local schools
Public and private schools in Bali have not paid serious attention to the provision of inclusive education for students with special needs.
Luh Putu Anggraeni, chairperson of Denpasar Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Agency, has proposed designating one or two public schools as pilot projects for the implementation of inclusive education.
“Students with special needs, especially those who have physical disabilities, can only access schools for the disabled, while they are actually eligible to education in general schools,” Anggraeni said.
In addition to general education being inaccessible, school facilities and qualified teachers to support students with special needs are a rarity.
“If we want to apply equal education for all, we have to provide everyone with open access to all education facilities and opportunities,” she said.
Such opportunities are important, as they have a lifelong impact on children’s futures.
The problems related to providing inclusive education for special-needs students have not been solved yet.
“There are many excuses for not accepting students with disabilities. Some schools say they have inadequate infrastructure and facilities for students in wheelchairs, while others lodge complaints about the shortage of teachers,” she added.
Praptono, head of monitoring and accreditation of special education at the Education and Culture Ministry, said that Bali was lagging behind other provinces in the provision of inclusive education.
The number of public and private schools that provide access to education for students with special needs is still very limited.
“That clearly shows that public and private schools in Bali lack the intention and care to give equal education to those students with special needs,” Praptono said.
There are some junior high schools in Bali that have implemented inclusive education, but there are none at senior high school level.
Ivy Sudjana shared her difficult situation. As a mother of an autistic son, Ivy has found it very hard to find a proper school for her son, hunting for many years to find a school that would suit her son’s needs.
An autism expert established once that her son had sufficient ability to endure daily classes at a general public school, provided that he was accompanied by an individual he trusted, and that the school made an arrangement to facilitate his special needs.
“He enrolled in public kindergarten and then public elementary school, but the arrangement ended in a failure because of several issues, including the communication skills of the teachers. Often the way teachers communicated their intentions irritated my son,” she said.
Ivy quit her job so as she could accompany her son throughout his years in public school. She admitted that it was still difficult for the school authorities to let a parent accompany a student during classes.
Recently, she found a good school in Yogyakarta, which has applied the inclusive education system. In each class, there is a student with special needs. He or she is accompanied by a teacher and learns at school using methods tailored specifically for his or her needs and ability.
Unfortunately, Yogyakarta is far away and Ivy had to cancel the plan after considering several things, in particular her son’s emotional attachment to his father.
“We will have to consider another option, as psychologically this situation would be damaging to Arsa. But I hope Bali can have this kind of school for students like my son,” Ivy said.