Challenges Facing Inclusive Education in Developing Countries
By Anthony M. Wanjohi
Inclusive education is about the integration approach of the disabled learners in schools. It is under this inclusion model that learners with special needs spend most or all of their time with non-disabled learners. While inclusive education has its benefits, there are enormous challenges hindering its effective implementation especially in developing countries. This article briefly examines the following: Inadequate Educational Facilities, Poor Teacher Training, Poor policy implementation.
Inadequate Educational Facilities
In most of the schools especially in developing countries, there are no adequate educational facilities. These range from lack of adequate reading materials, to desks, classrooms among others. Inclusive education has led to an increased number of learners in the learning institutions. This leads to a decrement in the available resources in the schools. According to as study conducted by Oakes and Saunders (2002), shortages of teaching and learning materials has a negative impact on the learners especially the disabled ones with less knowledge about a subject. This forces most of the parents to remove their children from the schools and take them to special schools.
Lack of adequate resources to meet the educational needs of the disabled learners in the regular schools cause most of the parents to have doubt as to whether the needs of their children are adequately met in these schools. Thus, most parents prefer to take their children to the special schools as compared to the inclusive schools. This affects negatively the success of inclusive education.
Additionally, many schools in the developing countries are characterized by inadequacies in basic facilities such as properly ventilated classroom, furniture suitable for the disabled and non-disabled learners, kitchen, safe clean water, playground, toilets and play material among others (IAEYC, 1991). This limits the enrollment of the disabled learners in the regular schools hence affecting the success of inclusive education.
Poor Teacher Training
Teacher’s training is equally important in the teaching and learning process. Most of the teachers do not have adequate training on handling both the disabled and non-disabled learners in one class. This affects the understanding of some of the learners of which it is reflected in their performance. Continued poor performance among the disabled learners due to the poor teaching skills and abilities of the teachers triggers their poor enrollment in the regular schools. Angrist and Lavy (2001) observe that lack of adequate and proper training received by teachers lead to a reduction in their pupils' test scores. Thus, lack of adequate teacher training to handle both the disabled and non-disabled learners in the same class negatively affects the success of inclusive education.
Poor inclusive education policy implementation
There is no adequate support for inclusive education from the concerned stakeholders. In most of developing countries, most of the parents of the disabled learners are cautious about placing their children in an inclusion program because of fears that the children will be ridiculed by other children, or be unable to develop regular life skills in an academic classroom. This is mainly attributed to poor policy implementation. Many governments in the developing countries have not been able to effectively implement inclusive education policy framework. In some countries like Kenya, the education policy is an exclusively one-sided policy and fails to meet the needs of the challenged learners in inclusive education arrangement. One case in point is the endlessly controversial national exam, which fails to capture learners' diverse backgrounds and needs (Sugiharto, 2008).
Inclusive education in most of the developing countries still remains in the realm of theory and far from practice; it is still grappling with problems of policy implementation, an environment that is not conducive for practice. The success of inclusive education is hindered by other factors like community’s attitude towards disability, lack of adequate involvement of all stakeholders among others. As such, more still needs to be done in order to ensure that the best is achieved from the objectives of inclusive education.
Angrist, J. D., & Lavy, V. (2001). Does Teacher Training Affect Pupil Learning? Evidence from Comparisons in Jerusalem Public Schools. Journal of Labor Economics, 19(2), 343-369.
IAEYC (1991). Accreditation Criteria and Procedures of the NationalAcademy of Early Childhood Program. Washington, DC: International Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC)
Oakes, J. & Saunders, M. (2002). Access to Textbooks, Instructional Materials, Equipment, and Technology: Inadequacy and Inequality in California’s Public Schools. Los Angeles: UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, and Access.
Sugiharto, S. (2008). Challenges in implementing inclusive education. Available online at http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/06/07/challenges-implementing-inclusive-education.html