SOCIAL INCLUSION POLICY AND PRACTICEUnited Kingdom and South AfricaIntroductionYouth policy is one of the key vehicles for ensuring that young people’s social inclusion becomes more of a reality; another is a move towards non-discriminatory practices and attitudes of society, particularly towards young people. The combination of significant changes in attitudes and practices, and an innovative and genuinely inclusive youth policy could well pave the way for young people to begin to experience greater recognition and respect within our society. Several major government policy initiatives in recent years have focused on attempting to combat social inclusion and on improving services and opportunities for children and young people.
Starting with the early years, some programmes focuses on poverty and disadvantage amongst pre-school children. Some deals with health and social services and tackling social exclusion amongst adolescents and school-leavers. These and other initiatives stress the need to give all young people, but in particular those from disadvantaged communities, the best start in life, through improved provision, advice and guidance and opportunities for personal and social development. Social Inclusion in the United KingdomIn England and Wales, a rather restricted view of inclusion was taken by the “Green Paper Excellence for All Children: Meeting Special Educational Needs” published in October 1997.
It relates to elevating standards, shifting resources to practical support, and strengthens inclusion. Developed on observations articulated in preceding consultation, the Green Paper seeks to set the future course of special education. However, the Green Paper gives no unambiguous and consistent definition of inclusion such as those found elsewhere. It seems that inclusion in the Green Paper only applies to children being included in an ordinary school rather than a special school.
This signifies that to put a pupil in a special school is to exclude, and there is an fascinating similarity here with the argument about whether the special school offers a ”least restrictive environment” for specific pupils. However, QCA or Qualifications and Curriculum Authority takes the vision that inclusion means acquiring suitable prospects for learning, assessment and qualifications to facilitate the complete and effectual involvement of all pupils in the process of learning1 . The CSIE definition of inclusive education is all children and young people regardless of disabilities or difficulties learning in ordinary pre-school provision, schools, colleges, universities with proper networks of support2.
Whatever the children needs, inclusion enables all students to participate completely in the life and work of mainstream setting. According to Rustemier (2002), inclusion is a systematic process of eradicating barriers to learning and participation for all children and young people. On the other hand, segregation is a chronic tendency to exclude difference while inclusion increased student’s participation and reduced their exclusion from, the cultures, curricula, and communities of local schools.
1Michael Farrell, 2001, Standards and Special Educational Needs, Published 2001Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 0826454321, p. 402Sharon Rustemier, 2002, Inclusive Information Guide, Centre for Studies in Inclusive Education (CSIE), Bristol, United Kingdom, p.1 and 2This means both issues are not in fixed states but rather continues and schools should work constantly towards resisting segregation and promoting inclusion3.