"Promoting inclusion is about reforming the education system. Inclusive education is much more cost effective than a segregated system, not only in terms of the running costs but also the long-term costs on the society." Roger Slee (2005) UNESCO.
One of the ongoing debates centres around the cost of inclusive education. Is it more cost-effective and cheaper than sustaining parallel systems of ordinary and special education? Furthermore does the inclusion of a learner with a disability into an ordinary class result in a lowering of standards and does it compromise the teacher's time?
In their success story published recently in this Learning Space, Laerskool Baanbreker listed some of the following challenges:
- Parents of non-disabled children fear that education lessons will be diluted or watered down if children with exceptionalities are placed in regular classrooms.
- They fear that classrooms will be disrupted because they mistakenly believe that all children with disabilities always have behavioural problems.
- They fear that fair division of teaching time will be a problem and that teacher effectiveness will be influenced negatively.
However, most theoreticians about Inclusive Education, feel strongly that "the conditions that promote equity in education, are those that also promote quality" (Scrtic).
Many schools that are effectively introducing inclusive education are finding that the strategies that teachers have to acquire to address barriers to learning in their classrooms also help them to become better teachers, They are more reflective and tend to problem solve and come up with their own solutions to problems rather than having a knee jerk reaction of always referring problems to outside specialists to come with tests and diagnoses. .
Changing of attitudes is the most important first step towards inclusive education and this costs nothing. Can we truly move from our old stereotypical ideas about what it would cost to make adjustments to our teaching strategies?