Service Delivery for Students with Mild Disabilities: Historical Perspectives and Contemporary Issues
STANLEY C. TRENT AND ALFREDO J. ARTILES
Recently, Latin American countries have devoted more attention to the development and implementation of educational programs for students with mild disabilities (i.e., mild mental retardation, emotional/behavioral disorders, and learning disabilities). This focus is much needed, for there are many problems that plague the educational systems of Latin American countries as they attempt to educate their young-particularly those with special needs. As outlined elsewhere, several factors are responsible for the deplorable situation of these educational systems (see Chapter 3). For example, lack of financial resources, teacher shortages, inadequate training for teachers, inadequate facilities, and insufficient school supplies and materials all contribute to alarmingly high illiteracy rates among the poor.
This problem is exacerbated when we examine the plight of children who are in need of special education services. According to Hegarty (as cited in Rampaul, Freeze, & Bock, 1992), "There are over 200 million children in developing countries who are either experiencing learning difficulties in school or are excluded completely" (p. 102). Furthermore, Rampaul and colleagues state that there are three major groups of children with special needs who reside in developing countries: (a) children with sensory impairments (i.e., hearing and visual impairments) or physical or mental challenges, (b) children with borderline deficits and cognitive abilities, and (c) children who experience learning problems in school due to lack of adequate preschool experiences or inappropriate or incomplete instruction after their enrollment in school. This latter