Inclusive Education in Indonesia
The Ministry of National Education is pushing that disabled children be permitted to join public schools as part of its efforts to include them in the nine-year mandatory education program.
"This program is focused on elementary and junior high schools because they are the level that the government focuses on in the mandatory education program," Joko Sutopo, who heads the student affairs sub-directorate at the Ministry of National Education.
He said the schools must not discriminate. "Children with mental and physical disabilities are not second-class citizens. It's in line with our nation's soul, Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity)."
The ministry has developed the inclusive education program for disabled children since 2003, aimed at ensuring their right to basic education.
"Special Schools (SLB) cannot fulfill the demands of children with mental disabilities as they only serve those with physical disabilities," Joko said.
Under the inclusive program, children with disabilities such as autism and Down's syndrome are enrolled in regular schools, in which teachers have received trained on how to deal with them.