Study Tour Successfully Completed: Participants from Eight (8) Countries Take Part
Inclusion International sponsored a successful study tour focused on inclusive education in New Brunswick, Canada. The event was the latest in several arranged in the last few years. It was led by Dr. Gordon L. Porter, Director of Inclusive Education Canada and Inés E. de Escallón, Inclusion International (II) Regional Coordinator for the Americas. It was held from October 5-10, 2015 with participants based in Fredericton, the capitol of New Brunswick.
The OECD, as well as UNESCO, has recognized New Brunswick, for the systemic implementation of inclusive education. Law and policy has mandated inclusion since 1986 and a new policy was issued in September 2013 to focus and enhance practices in schools and classrooms. The New Brunswick Ministry of Education received the 2013 UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize which cited the province
… for its long-standing commitment to a systemic approach to inclusive education for learners with disabilities and for its vision of education as a catalyst for social justice and equity.”
Participants in the study tour visited several schools in three different communities and had the opportunity to observe and discuss strategies and approaches with school leaders and teachers. The tour also included sessions with senior officials, parents and parent advocacy groups. Participants were from 8 countries: Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, China and the Czech Republic.
The participants found the school visits and information sessions very helpful and appreciated the hospitality and insights shared by their hosts.
One participant wrote:
This study tour was a great opportunity to see the inclusive education in practice. It is a big eye-opener when you have a chance to see the theory becoming reality. To see how policies and practices come together in everyday life in the best interest of each child was truly overwhelming. In every school, we could feel the team spirit of teachers and other staff to make inclusion work.
Inclusive Education Canada is an initiative of the Canadian Association for Community Living, the national member of Inclusion International. It promotes inclusive education in Canada through information sharing, training and collaboration with educators and family organizations. More information is available on the IEC website – www.inclusiveeducation.ca
The feedback for the study tour on Inclusive education in New Brunswick,
October 5 – 10, 2015 Inclusive Education Canada and Inclusive International
This study tour was a great opportunity to see the inclusive education in practice. It is a big eye-opener when you have a chance to see the theory becoming reality. To see how policies and practices come together in everyday life in the best interest of each child was truly overwhelming. In every school, we could feel the team spirit of teachers and other staff to make inclusion work. The tour was organized so well that we had an opportunity to meet and to speak with every stakeholder in the system: we spoke to students, to teachers, to support teachers, to principals, to regional school administrators, to agency workers and parents. The belief in the moral of inclusion has been persuasive and contagious. I found it very authentic and empowering to here all of the voices who participate in the inclusive system sounding as one voice. I personally visited six schools and saw classes in progress. I appreciate that in discussions afterwards, we were able to get down to details of everyday teacher´s life and how to make inclusion work in the schools and we received a lot of handouts and practical material. I learned not only that inclusion is possible but also the specific ways hot to achieve it in the system and in school.
Professionals from schools and from the district described how the system works today in practice; how the inclusion is framed by policies and agencies. The extra added value was the long time experience and professional insight of our trainer on the spot Gordon Porter, who was able to immerse us into the historical context of transition from segregated education into the inclusive education in NB.
Last but not least, it is important to thank the organizers for treating us not only like professionals but also like people and making slots in the schedule to show us the beauty of color changing leaves of New England and let us explore the local heritage of New Brunswick. Inez and Gordon, good job and thank you!
Katharina Pförtner, CBM international, Senior advisor for Inclusive Education and CBR Estelí Nicaragua
As I am working for CBM International in Central America, Latin America and on a global level as advisor for Inclusive Education and CBR, I am very much interested in good practice examples around the globe. I met the inclusive education strategy and also Gordon Porter already 1993 in a regional conference in Managua Nicaragua. Since then I have admired very much the experiences and also practices (what I could see in published documents) made in New Brunswick Canada.So it was a great opportunity for me and my organization to finally be able to experience in real the strategy, practice from planning to evaluation, meet stakeholders like students, teachers, parents, supporters, etc. and compare to other practices.
The fact that the participants all came from different countries and work areas was an added value for the study tour, as we all were able to exchange experiences and discuss the way to adapt the inclusive education concept of New Brunswick to our realities.
It is true, that there is a wide gap between the reality of developing countries and Canada. It is true that Canada counts with much more resources (if we see the budget, the quality of teachers, availability of technical equipment as well as the accessibility of the buildings, etc.) but I am convinced that a lot of the practice we could experience is showing us ways for the adaptation.
Most important fact to follow is the acceptance of diversity of learners in the school, insisting on the same age, same neighborhood, and same curriculum but allowing different ways of learning based on personal needs and interests. It is very important to spread the news that inclusive education is a better education for everybody. A school which is based on diversity as a value (not a problem) gives every learner opportunities to reach out for his/her full potential. Equally important is also the fact that learners might need additional support and that it is essential to organize this on an internal level. The magic word is here: collaboration (collaboration is the norm), between learners (buddies), parents, regular teachers, support stuff and external experts.
Inclusive Education, like practiced in New Brunswick is the first step for an inclusive society.
Thank you so much Gordon Porter and Ines Escallon and Inclusion International for this learning opportunity.
Martha Lavaire, Estudiante de Educación Especial, Universidad Pedagógica Nacional Francisco Morazán de Honduras
Se ha demostrado en muchas investigaciones que la diversidad en las aulas enriquece el aprendizaje y forma personas más humanas, justas y seguras de sí mismas.
Mi experiencia en el tour educativo ofrecido por Inclusión Internacional me ayudo y formó en gran manera a fortalecer esta premisa antes mencionada, también la enriqueció y cambió paradigmas mentales por estructuras totalmente nuevas sobre lo que es la Educación Inclusiva y las prácticas para su implementación.
Las visitas a los centros educativos fueron uno de los principales elementos de aprendizaje durante este viaje donde se pudo observar de cerca cómo se implementan estrategias que permiten la socialización como el aprendizaje de todos los estudiantes, con los mismos derechos y responsabilidades.
Hoy comprendo que la educación inclusiva es la mejor vía que existe para formar en los centros educativos. La base es el interés total en el niño o joven que requiera planes personalizados que tienen en cuenta sus intereses, gustos, aspiraciones y otros aspectos que son de vital importancia sin importar la condición de vida.
En las escuelas de New Brunswick se puede observar el trabajo de equipo que impulsa el éxito de la inclusión educativa donde maestros tienen un mismo objetivo y se apoyan entre sí, donde los padres y la comunidad están intrínsecamente ligados al aprendizaje y formación de los estudiantes que en todo momento están siendo apoyados.
Agradezco la gran oportunidad de aprendizaje que se me brindó, al grupo facilitador y organizativo del viaje que en todo el tour estuvieron prestos para la enseñanza de la educación inclusiva. Mi compromiso como maestra es ahora mucho más grande y espero generar cambios desde mi salón trayendo las prácticas inclusivas a la flexibilidad de currículo, trabajo en equipo de docentes, socialización para promover círculos de amistad, planes personalizados que respeten los estilos y ritmos de aprendizajes y lazos de cooperación con la comunidad.
Muchas Gracias por hacerme crecer y cambiar mi vida.