Why are there no provisions in place to cater to students with specific needs?

By an educator

Now that the scholastic year is drawing to an end, it is time to reflect on the inclusive practices in our schools.  I like order and control in my classroom, which I consider to be my territory during the time I am teaching.   However, I do worry about those pupils sitting in front of me who, though physically present, are not following the lessons.  I also have in mind those pupils who only came to school a few times during this scholastic year because of their health problems.

Here one has to ask: what about those pupils who are not mentally fit to attend a mainstream school? Are any alternatives provided for these students? There is now a great deal of awareness about mental health issues nevertheless, there are no educational provisions for such pupils. I, for one, this last year, have had students who suffered from severe anxiety, some who were on the verge of committing suicide, and others who were depressed (to mention just a few). These mental health conditions lead to abysmal sporadic school attendance.  These students are ultra-susceptible to the voices of teachers and even to any sound of footsteps in the school corridors. These are pupils who are so badly traumatised and/or emotionally damaged that they cannot cope with the mainstream system. These pupils have been referred to the appropriate professionals.

It is imperative that such students are re-integrated into the education system through other measures such as attending specialised centres, where they can be given all the necessary assistance care by those professionally trained to deal with children’s mental health issues. In schools, guidance teachers are the front liners who follow such cases as best they can. However, some of the mental health cases are so demanding that these guidance teachers become badly impacted by the complexity of the case/s. It is to be noted that guidance teachers are not trained in mental health issues.  Should not such cases be in the hands of the college counsellors? Is it too much to hope that bureaucracy does not fail these students?

At times, it is the case of one individual passing the buck which results in nobody taking any action whatsoever. The student is left without adequate support with disastrous and tragic consequences These students leave school at about sixteen to enter the real world without knowing how to cope with their problems. Acutely conscious that there are pupils who are actually being let down by the present system leaves me perturbed.  

One thought on “Why are there no provisions in place to cater to students with specific needs?

  1. School absenteeism is a phenomenon that is multifaceted and requires interventions by professionals and practitioners to support all those who are away from school. Not all learners that fail to attend school have mental health issues. Amongst the many pockets of those who abstain from school, one finds three in particular; foreign students who leave the country abruptly without informing the school or authorities, learners diagnosed with serious illnesses that require long-term cure and sometimes frequent visits to specialized hospitals abroad, and those who have mental health issues.

    Learners who spend most of their time in a hospital ward can benefit from home tuition with the main intention to reintegrate students back into school at the appropriate time. According to the information I have learners who have expressed suicidal ideation are dealt with promptly by professionals and will be followed accordingly. On the other hand, students who suffer from mental health issues will be admitted to the Young People’s Unit at Mount Carmel Hospital. They are closely followed by college counsellors and other personnel. Even though this unit has been modernized and facilities upgraded still I do not believe it is a good idea to have this unit within a hospital where adults are also receiving their treatment.

    These are areas that require constant upgrading and the introduction of new innovations and technologies. Even these learners require the best facilities, constant support and encouragement.

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