We're not trained to deal with them: Teacher
Looking after children with special education needs (SEN) in a mainstream school is no easy job, said a pre-school teacher who declined to be named.
The teacher told The New Paper that she is often at a loss when a child with SEN has a meltdown because she is not professionally trained to deal with them.
She said: "They might get agitated when there's a change in their routines, so they'll throw a tantrum or sit in a corner alone."
An assistant teacher will have to calm the child down and coax them into joining the class, she said.
In a recent survey by the Lien Foundation, seven in 10 Singaporeans support the idea of inclusive education.
However, only 53 per cent of parents polled are comfortable having their children sitting next to a child with SEN in the classroom.
Madam Sharon Yeap, 52, a mother of three, said: "Initially, I was hoping there would not be any children with SEN in my daughter's class because I know they can be disruptive."
But after a year of volunteering at school events and noticing how her daughter has become more accommodating and patient, the housewife is now more receptive to the idea of inclusive education.
"I asked myself, 'What if other kids ostracised my special needs child?'"
She added that while she understands that children with SEN could be disruptive in class, it would not be a big issue if there was a teacher trained to handle them.
Madam Liana Aron, 33, a housewife and a mother of two, believes it depends on the child's capabilities.
She said: "If they have no intellectual disability, I don't see why they shouldn't be in mainstream schools."
Experts said that although children with SEN could benefit from studying in mainstream schools, there were certain drawbacks to inclusive education.
Dr Penny Tok, a psychologist from Dr Penny Tok Psychology Practice, said being among peers could give children with SEN exposure to a real-world setting.
But while she is pro-inclusion, she said the current setting in mainstream schools might not be suitable for all children with special needs.
Mr Izad Ghalid, a psychology studies lecturer from Temasek Polytechnic, added: "It will also be challenging for the mainstream school teachers to design and deliver lessons to suit the needs for both SEN and mainstream students.
"The child with SEN might not be able to receive the most effective and tailored lesson in a mainstream school simply because the teacher has 30 other students to work with."