Angela Shim, Writer
Special needs education is just as its name suggests: education for students that require specialized support. Though there are schools created especially for the education of special needs students, regular schools also often have separate classes and systems set in place to support these types of students. Likewise, GSIS has a system for students with special needs as well.
You may have never heard of special needs education in GSIS. This is in part due to the fact that GSIS does not have separate classes for special needs students. Instead, specialized programs are created for each student so that all of their needs are met.
Ms. Dacyl Gloria, the Special Educational Needs (SEN) coordinator, describes the role of special needs education systems at GSIS, “The SEN program at GSIS makes sure that there are carefully evaluated and individualized plans to help students with different abilities achieve the greatest possible success in present and future environments. My job is to coordinate among teachers, principals, and counselors to create an educational plan uniquely suited to a student’s specific needs. For example, I sometimes have to contact therapists or receive outside support to be able to provide better aid to a student.”
However, the subject of the inclusion of special needs students is one that is surrounded by great controversy in worldwide educational circles. People remain divided on whether students with disabilities should be allowed into regular classrooms. Some say that special needs students would be overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the fast-paced learning in a regular classroom; while others argue that fast-paced environments are actually beneficial as they help students adjust early on to real-world conditions in which there are very few people with handicaps.
GSIS’ stance on this issue is that students with special needs should be included in regular education. Although the school’s admissions process recommends students with serious disabilities attend specialized institutes to accommodate their needs, GSIS allows students with mild disabilities to be admitted. As an international school, GSIS focuses on creating harmony amongst a diverse group of students. This concept is reflected in how the inclusion of handicapped students is heavily prioritized. Rather than isolating students with disabilities, GSIS aims to integrate them into the school community and keep them involved as much as possible.
Ms. Gloria also explains the reasoning behind allowing handicapped students to attend regular classes, “The goal is to include them instead of separating them. It is important to give everyone equal access to education. This not only benefits the disabled students but the rest of the students as well because it builds character by teaching them to be mindful and accepting. All in all, the intention of GSIS’ SEN is to ensure that handicapped students can learn and enjoy school in the least restrictive environment possible.”
Aspects of normal life such as having a regular education are easy to take for granted. Yet this is not the reality for all people with special needs. Fortunately, systems of special needs education, like GSIS’, enable them to learn and gain opportunities just like everyone else.