What can India learn from the Canadian education system?

Jul 17, 2013 by

Source: Times of India

The Canadian education system tries to be as equitable as possible towards students with disabilities. Many Canadian jurisdictions have policies that govern the inclusion of students with disabilities within the classroom. But in order to achieve this inclusivity, it is also required that parents, students, teachers, administrators and other community members continuously collaborate to address the needs of students with disabilities. For instance, while attending elementary and high school, a meeting was held for me at the start of the school year in which my parents, the teacher, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist and I would discuss the curriculum for the upcoming year and the resources (ex. technology, special desk and chair, etc.) that I would need. This ensured that I was able to meet the academic goals set out in each grade’s curriculum.

The Canadian education system also makes an attempt to assist and accommodate students with disabilities in various ways. For example, in elementary and high school, I was given aSpecial Education Assistant (SEA) who would take my notes and scribe for me. At the high school, I attended, the elevator was specifically designated for students with disabilities; administrators made sure that the elevator was accessible at all times by distributing the elevator key only to students with disabilities. Some of my high school teachers also made an attempt to include me in the activities by adapting them to my needs. To illustrate, in my gym classes, if we were playing basketball, my teacher would have one round of wheelchair basketball as our school’s gym had extra wheelchairs for this purpose.

A number of Canadian post-secondary institutions have centres for students with disabilities that provide them with the necessary and reasonable accommodations. Examples of services offered by centres for students with disabilities are in-class note takers (who are student volunteers or hirees), scribes for exams, extra time for exams and textbooks in alternative formats (ex. Braille or large print). The accommodations are determined by a Learning Specialist/Disability advisor and are based on the student’s disability and needs. At SFU, I meet with my Learning Specialist at the start of each semester to discuss the course outlines and accommodations that I will need for that semester.

Occasionally professors may also accommodate the student on their own. For instance, because professors are aware that I require a scribe and extra time, if there is an in-class activity, they will sometimes allow me to take it home, type it up and email it to them. (Otherwise, the centre for students with disabilities arranges for a scribe if enough notice is given.)

Even though the Canadian education system aims to accommodate students with diverse needs, it must be noted that students cannot be accommodated in all programs. To demonstrate, a student like me who has limited hand coordination cannot expect to be accommodated in a pharmacy class where accuracy and precision are essential and tested. Students must also have the ability to learn.

After watching the ‘SatyamevJayate’ episode on people with disabilities, it is clear that the Indian education system faces a challenge when it comes to providing these types of services to students with disabilities. However, people living in countries like Canada fail to realize that this is not the case in all countries. You will be surprised at how many Canadians I come across who believe that people with disabilities are unable to attend school. This is due to the knowledge void that exists within our society regarding the education of individuals with disabilities, which I now hope to fill by sharing my knowledge and experiences.

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