Inclusive Education is one of Inclusion Saskatchewan’s highest priorities. Aside from our work advocating for individuals struggling to find inclusion in the education system, we are always moving forward with ideas and strategies on how to resolve these issues at provincial and systemic levels. As part of this systemic work, our own Alaina Harrison (Director of Strategic Initiatives) has been collaborating with a number of other community organizations as well as government in a group called Re-Imagine Eduction. The goal of this coalition has been to evaluate and clarify the issues facing education today, imagine what the future might look like, and plan how to make the vision a reality. After months of work and research, the group has finally hit a major milestone with the release of Education Re-Imagined: 12 Actions For Education.
In creating their recommendations, Re-imagine Education invited parents, grandparents, caregivers, students, members of the business community and post-secondary institutions, members of the public and teachers to share their hopes and dreams for public education now and in the future. A survey was sent out and consultations were held in schools, libraries, community halls and event centres, hockey rinks and coffee shops across the province. In total, over 6000 people contributed to the survey, and consultations were held in over 200 schools around the province. Once the data was collected, the team pored over the results and created 12 recommendations that best represented the hopes, desires, and dreams of those they heard from.
The goal of these recommendations is that the Saskatchewan education system (Ministry of Education, school boards, schools, teachers and administrators) will accept and implement them broadly at every level and in every classroom — changing the landscape of education for a future generations. For Inclusion Saskatchewan, we were excited to not only learn that a majority of the public also want inclusion in the classroom, but also that inclusion plays a key role in the recommendations.
Recommendation #2 reads, “Human resources must be provided to support inclusion and create classrooms where every child can learn. This means providing educational assistants, Elders, speech-language pathologists, educational psychologists, counsellors, librarians, English as an additional language teachers and others to support classroom learning.” The document goes on to say that “Participants were clear that they support an inclusive education system where all students are given the opportunity to learn and develop their individual gifts. They were also clear that an inclusive education system requires the proper resources to help students succeed.”
Further down the list at #11, Re-imagine Education recommends that “any funding model must be designed to provide the resources to support the varied needs of students, including behavioural issues, learning needs, cultural diversity and mental health.”
While these are only just recommendations, it’s important to understand just how big of a step forward this is. Not only is there a major policy document proclaiming the benefits of inclusion, but it is directly sourced from the voices of those in this province.