What is being done in Ontario?
Every day in Ontario, teachers and schools are providing a high quality education to ensure that future citizens are equipped with the skills and knowledge that they will need to succeed. Regrettably, this quality education is not being consistently provided to students who have an intellectual disability. Our education system must ensure that every child receives the benefits of education as a member of a regular class in a regular school.
Schools that have adopted an inclusive culture have demonstrated the benefits that it provides for all children in the establishment of a healthy society that respects and supports different talents, strengths and capabilities. On the other hand, people who have an intellectual disability have been clear about the harm they have suffered as a result of segregated education practices and the life-long dependence on specialized government supports that can result from a segregated education.
Ontario has already taken many steps toward inclusion. Policies such as Regulation 181/98, which states that a regular classroom should be the first option for placement for all students, have laid the foundations for a successful move to full inclusion. The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s Guidelines on Accessible Education has established the conditions necessary to ensure fairness and equity in education. The combination of these policies offer a clear mandate for leadership in ensuring that students who have an intellectual disability are included in regular classrooms.
Planning mechanisms such as Identification, Placement and Review Committees, and Individual Education Plans (IEP) could play a role in ensuring that the proper individualized supports for a student are in place to succeed in a regular classroom.
The implementation of Education for All, and the continuance of modules on facilitating inclusion in the classroom through the New Teacher Induction Program have created a unique capacity for transforming the quality of education in Ontario. There are adequate dollars already in place for special education programs that could be reinvested into inclusive practices and supports in regular classrooms. An existing knowledge base on providing inclusive education is well established in Ontario.
The province is in a position to take a leadership role in ratifying the UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. With all of the above groundwork in place there is a unique opportunity to ensure that students who have an intellectual disability receive the same quality education as all other students.
Did You Know?
- The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that everyone has the right to an inclusive education. Canada was among the first countries to sign the convention.
- The Ontario Human Rights Commission has affirmed that educational services must promote inclusion and full participation.
- Regulation 181/98 of the Education Act in Ontario has called for placement of children who have an intellectual disability in regular classrooms as a first option.
- 67% of Canadian children who have an intellectual disability are not included in a regular classroom. Numbers are thought to be higher in Ontario. Controversial documentation and complications because of labeling make this difficult to determine.