What is the difference between remedial education and special education?

Remedial Education and Special Education often get used interchangeable, but when you study the two you will learn that they are in-fact very different.

Whilst special education and remedial education programs are both specialised, structured programs that have been designed specifically to help students who need extra attention academically.  

The target demographic and the delivery of the learning material in the two are very different.  Let me explain:

Remedial education is aimed at students who have an average or even a higher than average intellectual ability BUT that are not performing well in a traditional school environment.  

Typically this is because the child is struggling with a particular subject like reading or mathematics.  It does not mean that the child is struggling because they have an intellectual impairment.  Other reasons that the child is not performing can be related to emotional stress or anxiety.  

Remedial educational programs are designed specially to help give learners a bit more individual attention, in smaller groups and often a slightly slower pace.  This will then give the learner the ability to catch up the skills that they are lacking.

Special education on the other hand is designed to help students that are not coping in a mainstream or remedial environment.  

The students that qualify for LSEN (Learner Special Educational Needs) status in South Africa are students that lack the intellectual ability to perform in a class that teaches standardised concepts and subjects.

Special education students may lack social skills, communication skills, emotional maturity, physical abilities or even analytical skills.  Some struggle with academics, emotional or behavioural control, anxiety etc.

The content and delivery of a special education program is adapted to help meet the physical and mental abilities off its individual students.

Ilse Kilian-Ross

Ilse Kilian-Ross is the owner of Amazing K, a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. Amazing K is a private adhd school, autism school and therapy centre for children from age 2 - 6 years where learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. The autism school offers Individualized Education Programs, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum.