Special Needs Education
Children with special needs face challenges when they attend mainstream schools with the other normal children, and may require special attention or equipment to make their learning be at par with the rest of the students. The needs of students with disabilities vary. There are those with visible disabilities such as the physically or mentally challenged. Others have behavioral disorders such as autism that may make them have a harder time interacting with other students in the schools or in grasping the content taught. Earlier on, most countries in the world confined students with disabilities in special schools where they were provided with services that suited their needs. With the increased advocacy for equality in the education system, they have been getting integrated into the mainstream schools, though it is a challenge for them to fit in fully.
Most countries advocate for equal education opportunities for all minorities including the special needs students, apart from a few conservative ones. The learning of students with disabilities in the mainstream schools is aided by technology, though this has brought a myriad of challenges ranging from the unwillingness of the students to use the learning aids to the teachers’ lack of knowledge on how to assist in the utilization of the helpful technology. Human rights organizations have advocated for the special needs students to be included and integrated in the mainstream schools. This is one of the ways in which the equality of education opportunities can be ensured, but there are some disabilities that are extreme. The extreme disabilities such as mental retardation would not do well in a conventional school, requiring those children to be educated in special schools that have teachers specially trained to handle them and the appropriate facilities as well.
The Australian education system has made strides in trying to include and integrate students with disability in the mainstream schools. However, the special needs students allowed in the mainstream schools are those whose abilities are only moderately compromised. For those with severe disabilities, they are provided for with special schools. Religious organizations in Australia such as the Catholic Church have institutions that cater for students with special needs. The disabled students in mainstream schools are required to have their conditions known by the school authorities, so as to give them assistance whenever the need arises. There is a Disability Discrimination Act-Education Standards that outlaws any discrimination against the special needs students in the education system.
The legal system in Australia also recognizes the plight of the special needs students, and that is why there is a Disability Education Standards from Australia Government Attorney General’s Department. The Department of Education has also prepared Guidelines on the Disability Education Standards which are to be followed in the handling of the special needs students. Moreover, the Australian Human Rights Commission has a department that caters for the disabled students and fights for their inclusion and integration in the conventional education setting. The system in Australia seems to cater for the specific needs of the students before considering equal opportunities in education. This is evident from the existence of the special schools that segregate the disabled students from the rest of the students. The criteria used in determining whether the special needs student is to be admitted in a mainstream or special school shows that the government tries to act in the best interest of the student in question.