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Schools failing to integrate special needs students, study finds

The Local · 29 Nov 2010, 12:05

Published: 29 Nov 2010 12:05 GMT+01:00

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For many children with either physical or mental disabilities the opportunity to socialise with their peers ends with kindergarten because there aren’t enough suitable places for them in schools, the Bertelsmann Foundation found.

About 60 percent of special needs preschool children attend integrated facilities, but this number drops to 34 percent once they reach elementary school age, according to the research.

That number dips even lower to a national average of 15 percent for secondary school age kids with special needs, the study found.

The majority are forced to seek out separate special schools, it said.

“A consistent reorganisation in the direction of more inclusive schools is necessary,” Bertelsmann Foundation education expert Jörg Dräger said. “It can’t be that students with special needs learn together with other students until the end of elementary school and are then forced to attend separate special schools.”

Taking courses together is not just good for special needs students, he said, explaining that research has shown other "students’ performances don’t lapse and they improve their social competencies.”

The study showed major differences in progress between German states, though. In the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein more than 40 percent of special needs students were integrated into regular schools, but in Saxony-Anhalt, North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse it was just 10 percent.

The Bertelsmann Foundation found that in 2009 there were some 480,000 students with special educations needs – about six percent of the country’s student population. Among these were 85,000 pre-school age children.

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But each state defined their number of special needs differently, ranging from 4.5 percent of students in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate to 11.7 percent in Mecklenburg- Western Pomerania.

“The political goal in German is to cut the number of students who don’t graduate by half,” Dräger said. “That will only happen when we reform the special needs school system, because more than half of these students come from these schools. The necessary reorganisation means changes for all schools and costs money, but it will quickly pay off for our society.”

The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:31 November 29, 2010 by Kayak
I am not surprised by this article.

I have a friend here in Germany who is deaf since birth.

He is now in his mid-thirties and is fluent in both his native German and also in English. He is also a successful businessman both here in Germany, in China and in Australia.

He spent his early childhood in the northern part of Germany but his parents had to move to Switzerland when he was a child to ensure that he gained a normal education.

He tells me that Germany then used outdated methods for teaching deaf children how to make sounds ­ methods that included the teacher sticking their fingers into the child's mouth.

Why do I feel like I am living in the 1960s when it comes to matters of education here in Germany?

- a concerned Aussie expat.
13:46 November 29, 2010 by nish4u
not surprised...add immigrants also to this equation
21:06 November 29, 2010 by mhdamro
at least this proves Zarazzin's theory ... that "certain students are stupid by genes" ...!!!!!! ... hmmmm i wonder whether they should be kicked out of the Hartz IV system or not???? i think they will come up with a new study suggesting something like 87% of these mentally challenged children have Foreign culture background ... i.e "Auslaender " ....... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
00:59 November 30, 2010 by bartschaff
"not surprised...add immigrants also to this equation"(nish4u).

Wow. And look at someone anxiously waiting to blame immigration for every single problem in Germany... It's so childish it would be funny, if xenophobia wasn't such a serious problem in Europe.
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