Monash Faculty of Education is opening the doors to inclusive education
Around the world, an estimated 650 million children are denied education because of their disabilities, but the obstacles to opening up these young lives are being eroded.
Changing attitudes to allow more children to learn is a passionate quest for Associate Professor Umesh Sharma, who coordinates a Special Education Program in the Monash Faculty of Education.
His projects begin by examining why teachers in developing countries are apprehensive about working with students with disabilities; he has found that their views are often the result of deep-rooted cultural aversion to the disabled.
“It’s a complex, sensitive issue that requires a deep understanding of local culture,” Associate Professor Sharma said.
Another early part of the process for his projects, which he conducts in the Pacific, India, Bangladesh and China, is consultation with education policymakers.
“Working with individual teachers won’t, on its own, bring change,” Associate Professor Sharma said. “We must also work with policymakers, teacher trainers and parents.”
Associate Professor Sharma’s work falls within UNESCO’s global goal of “inclusive learning” and has been helped by developing nations signing international conventions such as the 2007 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and landmark legislation such as India’s The Persons with Disabilities Act (1995).
Although such policies intend to integrate disabled students into mainstream education, implementation has proved difficult, so Associate Professor Sharma’s team has also been working directly with schools, teachers and parents.
Substantial practical barriers to inclusive education remain, including extreme poverty, under-resourced and overcrowded classrooms, lack of disability access, and teacher attitudes.
But Associate Professor Sharma’s message about the benefits of an inclusive approach is backed by studies showing that students with disabilities who attend regular schools are more likely to achieve academically, live independently, earn a higher salary and be married, than those educated in segregated settings.
Read the full story of Associate Professor Umesh Sharma’s work in “Classrooms without borders” in the October issue of Monash magazine.
About Monash University Teachers College
Monash University Teachers College has been recently ranked as sixth in the world, and is recognized as one of Australia’s leading education faculties. An array of students from dozens of countries and all around Australia study with the Monash Faculty of Education and this diversity creates a stimulating learning environment. Educational Resource Centres are located on each campus providing technical and academic resource support and advice. Centres of Excellence across a variety of fields support the academic and learning lives of students and staff. Industry partnerships in the public and private sector are an essential component of the faculty’s collaborative approach to develop and conduct applied and theoretical research projects.
Program: Master of Teaching (Primary or Secondary)
Location: Melbourne, Victoria
Semester intake: March
Duration: 2 years
Application deadline: Although there is no strict application deadline for either of these programs, it is recommended that students apply at least three months prior to the program start date. Doing so will provide students with a sufficient amount of time to complete the assessment and pre-departure process.
Admissions Criteria/Entry Requirements for Canadians
To be eligible for admission, you must have
- successfully completed, at minimum, a three-year undergraduate degree from a recognized post-secondary institution; and
- have achieved a 65 percent average or above.
For the Master of Teaching (Primary), the university would also like to see that you have undertaken courses in a couple of different disciplines within your undergraduate degree, as primary teachers must have general knowledge in several different subjects.
For the Secondary programs, applicants must also meet the requirements for two teaching methods. The university is generally looking for four to five full credits in a first method and another three to four full credits in a second method. For example, if one would like English as their first teaching method and History as their second, they would be required to have completed five full credits in English and four full credits in History within their undergraduate degree.