European Journal of Educational Studies 5(1), 2013 European Journal of Educational Studies 5(1), 2013 © 2013 Ozean Publication
VOICES OF EXPERIENCE: BOTSWANA PRIMARY SCHOOLS TEACHERS ON INCLUSIVE EDUCATION
SOURAV MUKHOPADHYAY Department of Educational Foundations, University of Botswana E-mail address for correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org
__________________________________________________________________________________________ Abstract: This qualitative case study was designed to investigate teachers’ perceptions of the impact of inclusion of learners with special educational needs on their classes and the practice of inclusive education in Botswana. Thirty-six teachers from six primary schools of the South Central Region of Botswana were engaged in six focus group discussions. Focus group discussions were triangulated with document analysis, classroom observations and access-audit to get an insight about the school and classroom practices. Findings revealed that majority of the general education teachers was not familiar with the concept of inclusive education and did not fully support it. Teachers preferred to include learners with mild disabling conditions compared to learners with severe disabling conditions. Teachers primary concerns were inadequate training, lack of resources, and high studentteacher ratio as barriers to the successful implementation of inclusive education in Botswana. Keywords: inclusive education, Bostwana primary school teachers _______________________________________________________________________________________
The concept of inclusive education is based on the principle that all children regardless of ability or disability have a basic right to be educated alongside their peers in their local schools (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO], 1994). This concept, which was spearheaded in the Western countries in the 1980s, has become a matter for the ‗global agenda‘ (Pijl, Meijer & Hegaty, 1997; Singal, 2005). Botswana as one of the signatories of Education for All [EFA] is committed to enhance access to education to all her citizens and inclusive education is perceived to be the most effective approach in reaching this goal (Mukhopadhyay, 2009).
Journey to Inclusive Education Historically, persons with disability were oppressed, their human rights were violated, and their accesses to education were denied. Majority of them were sacrificed and some of them were used as an object of entertainment. Philanthropists felt that individuals with disabilities should be given custodial care to protect them from abuse (Kirk, Gallagher, Anastasiow, Coleman, 2006). This led to the concept of institutionalization, where
European Journal of Educational Studies 5(1), 2013
individuals with disabilities were placed, fed and clothed. These types of institutions were not meant for education they were meant for protecting individuals with disabilities from the ridicules and abuse of the society. Education as a human right has been recognized and acknowledged by various national and international organizations. On December 10, 1948, the international community adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948). It recognized the principle of ―everyone has a right to education. Education shall be free, at least in elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. …Parents have prior rights to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children‖ (Article 26). Following this declaration, many countries accepted the sentiments of ‗rights of education‘ to all children. Rights of children were also raised in World Conference on Education for All (1990) at the Jomtien. Subsequent to the Declarations of Educational for All, many developing countries honoured the spirit and tried to enhance access of education for typically developing children....
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