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    Onderwijskrant Vlaanderen
    Vernieuwen: ja, maar in continuïteit!
    26-01-2015
    Klik hier om een link te hebben waarmee u dit artikel later terug kunt lezen.Onderwijs.Finland:haaks op radicale inclusie en M-decreet
    Recent discussion on inclusion in Finland: haaks op radicale inclusie en M-decreet

    *Finland heeft de optie voor radicale inclusie zoals in VN-gedrag nooit onderschreven.
    *Probleemleerlingen veelal in aparte klassen
    *Veel aandacht en geld ...voor remediëring

    Citaat: Currently, Finland is a black sheep in the international movement on inclusive education. The legitimacy of separate special education is strong and unquestioned. Since the mainstream in most other countries is towards inclusive education, the situation of Finnish school authorities is not always comfortable. There is a continuous threat of a legitimacy crisis in special education. Until now the threat has been successfully handled first through the means of ignoring the international discussions, statements and policies, and lately by changing the meaning of the concept of inclusion. Instead of inclusion meaning desegregation it is increasingly defined by educational authorities to mean some kind of good teaching in general (Halinen & Järvinen, 2008; Special Education Committee, 2007).

    Traditional Finnish sets of values combined with strong teacher professionalism together explain the high legitimacy of segregated special education in Finnish society. The increasing numbers of students in special education are interpreted by representatives of the government as a healthy answer to increasing pathological conditions of children. The international discussion on inclusion (UN, 1993; Unesco, 1994) was first met in Finland by silence, which continued for several years (e.g. Blom, et al., 1996). At the political level, inclusion is not raised as a goal to be sought. Instead, it is understood as a state that has already been achieved, because all that is possible has already been done. The main focus of special education policy is localized in the neoliberal philosophy of “early intervention”, where problems are found in the pathological conditions of individual children (Plan for Education and Research 2007-2011 by the Ministry of Education). This focus is evident also in the Special Education Strategy report of the Special Education Committee of the Ministry of Education (2007).

    Furthermore, none of the political parties have raised the issue of inclusive education, outside of the small left wing party, The Left Alliance.
    Integration, or inclusion, is commonly conceived of as an already achieved and established state of affairs. Since the rehabilitation committee of 1966, the official documents of the National Board of Education have repeatedly stated that integration is a primary choice which, however, is not always possible to achieve. What is “possible” depends on the abilities of the person himself, and these limits are decided by teachers. A popular scapegoat for the lack of integration is found in deficits in teacher education (Special Education Committee, 2007). According to this explanation integration is not possible because teachers have not acquired the necessary skills in their education. Antagonists of this explanation underline that current teacher education is fully adequate in this respect and gives readiness for all teachers to include students with disabilities.

    The academic world of special education has traditionally taken a conservative stance towards inclusion. Popular arguments for special education have stressed that “place is not important” or “more research is needed” before inclusion can be activated (Blom et al, 1996). Plausible popular legitimisation of special classes has been created through circular arguments: a child is, of course, in need of special education if she has special educational needs.
    Very recently there has been observable some change in the discussion. First, some large disability organizations, e.g. the Parents’ Association for People with Intellectual Disabilities, The National Council on Disability, and the Finnish Association on People with Physical Disabilities have presented critical statements, not heard previously, on current policy which favours increased placement of students in special classes. These organizations have begun to refer to international goal statements on inclusive education, like the Salamanca statement. Second, the academic field of special education has begun to experience some polarization in the question of inclusion, and more positive sounds are being heard in favour of inclusion. This argument is observed, for example, in a recent addition on special education of the Finnish educational journal “Kasvatus” (2/2009). Additionally, a current textbook written by leading special education professors (2009) refers to inclusive education in a cautiously positive tone of voice, even if traditional special education is in no way criticized. It also gives space to the presentation of the international inclusion movement and international statements.

    The above mentioned events are weak signals which probably foreshadow the slow change of societal values underway in the direction of greater tolerance towards people with disabilities. More radical changes could be expected from a different direction. The preparation of new legislation concerning the state funding of local municipalities is currently taking place. Preliminary, unofficial information on the new principles concerning state support give some promise for the demolition of the present individual-based funding model of special education in favour of a more global solution. If the change happens it, in all probability, will mean a free fall in the number of special class placements. Inclusive development may thus become materialized as an unintended consequence of a bureaucratic funding reform.

    Currently, Finland is a black sheep in the international movement on inclusive education. The legitimacy of separate special education is strong and unquestioned. Since the mainstream in most other countries is towards inclusive education, the situation of Finnish school authorities is not always comfortable. There is a continuous threat of a legitimacy crisis in special education. Until now the threat has been successfully handled first through the means of ignoring the international discussions, statements and policies, and lately by changing the meaning of the concept of inclusion. Instead of inclusion meaning desegregation it is increasingly defined by educational authorities to mean some kind of good teaching in general (Halinen & Järvinen, 2008; Special Education Committee, 2007).
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