Antonio Alfaro Fernández
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Victims of trafficking, once they are released from their captors, need psychological and educational intervention to achieve their recovery and integration. For this, it is important to design and develop educational programs that foster language learning, professional training, and good habits of nutrition and higiene, and that provide alternatives for leisure and free time.
These education programs, designed for adults, should be initiated in the shelter houses where the victims are released. They are developed by multidisciplinary teams formed by professionals in education, psychology, nursing, and social work. The final objective is to provide competences to the people included in the program so that they can leave the shelters and be able to live autonomously and independently in the host society.
Benjamin Jörissen, Leopold Klepacki, and Ernst Wagner
Research in arts education is characterized by a tension between presupposed theoretical concepts about “arts” and “education,” on the one hand, and the global field of untheorized arts education practices, on the other hand. This complexity is greatly magnified by the various historical and cultural understandings that characterize both the institutionalization of the arts as well as arts education itself. The fact that research traditions are themselves closely connected to a particular field of arts education adds an additional dimension to this complex question: according to our meta-studies relating to arts education-research, it is particularly evident that (1) Western and Eurocentric biases are quite dominant in this research field and that (2) well-established (Western, highbrow) art genres are dominating the research landscape, tying specific research styles, research interests, and objectives toghether.
To avoid normative and potentially hegemonial biases resulting from this situation, we analyze various arts education research approaches according to their the ontological, epistemological, and methodological anchorings. Based upon this, we develop a general meta-model of arts education research, combining a typology of perspectives defining arts education research and a set of dispositive dichotomies constitutive for this field.
The communities that constitute the racialized category of Asian Americans consist of approximately 20 million people in the United States, or about 5% of the total population. About 20% or 4 million are of primary or secondary school age, and over 1.1 million are in higher education. Both in popular and academic discourse, “Asian American” generally refers to people who have ethnic backgrounds in South Asia (e.g., Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (e.g., Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), and East Asia (e.g., China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan). As “Asian American” is an umbrella term used to categorize a very diverse, heterogeneous, and transnational set of populations, Asian Americans as a group present various challenges to education and research in and about the United States. These challenges can concern paradigms of achievement, citizenship, family involvement, access (e.g., higher education, bilingual education), language and culture, race and ethnicity, and school community.
In order to address these paradigmatic challenges, a great deal of scholarship has called for a disaggregation of the data on populations that fall under the pan-ethnic “Asian America” umbrella term, to gain a more nuanced and dynamic understanding of the many diverse populations and their historical, cultural, economic, and political experiences. To further address the problematic framing of Asian Americans in education and related fields, scholars have applied critical lenses to key tensions within conceptualization, policy, curriculum, and pedagogy. More recently, the notions of intersectionality and transnationalism have been generative in the study of Asian Americans, within not only educational research but also Asian American studies, which generally falls under the field of ethnic studies in the U.S. context, but has also been categorized under American studies, cultural studies, or Asian studies. While characterizations of Asian Americans as “the Model Minority” or “the Oppressed Minority” persist, the relevance of such static binaries has increasingly been challenged as the Asian American populations and migrations continue to diversify and increase.
Autoethnography is an increasingly popular form of postpositivist narrative inquiry that has recently begun to appear in educational contexts. The multiple lineages of autoethnography include the insider accounts of early anthropologists, literary approaches to life history and autobiography, responses to the ontological/epistemological challenges of postmodern philosophies, feminist and postcolonial insistence on including narratives of the marginalized, performance and communication scholarship, and the interest in personal stories of contemporary therapeutic and trauma cultures. Approaches vary widely from fragmented, experimental, performative, and multimodal texts through to realist tales. Advocates claim that autoethnography enables us to live more reflective, more meaningful, and more just lives.
Ming Chee Ang
Despite the fact that Mandarin is not accorded official language status in Malaysia, and that ethnic Chinese communities accounted for less than 30% of the country’s overall population, Malaysia is the only country outside China and Taiwan with a comprehensive and complete Chinese education system. It is also the only country in Southeast Asia that has perpetuated the Chinese education system established during the colonial era.
The prolonged endurance of the Chinese education system in Malaysia is the result of many factors: heavy brokerage and lobbying efforts by ethnic Chinese political leaders; incorporation of vernacular schools into the Malay-dominated national education system in the backdrop of the Malayan nation formation stage; social mobilization of the Chinese education movement in Malaysia; and the increasing significance of Mandarin proficiency in the world.
In particular, the assimilation policies for nation building by the Malay-dominated regime have threatened the cultural distinctiveness of the Chinese-speaking communities. Resistance from the Chinese speaking minorities is manifested through their support of the Chinese schools. Moreover, the elimination of English schools during the 1970s has unintentionally favored the Chinese primary schools. Despite their standing at that time as the “second-best” option after the English school, Chinese schools that offered the benefit of trilingual education, stricter discipline, and more competitive academic performance enjoyed an accelerated boost in student enrollments. More importantly, many parents who do not speak Chinese began to appreciate the quality of Chinese schools, and the enrollment of non-ethnic Chinese students has continued to rise ever since.
Above all, China’s rapid economic ascendancy and growing political influence since the 1990s has enhanced the importance of Mandarin as a global language. This has added value to the importance of Chinese schools as language and cultural learning institutions for Malaysian. Such opportunity has enabled the Chinese school model to become one of the most successful and inclusive educational institutions for multicultural Malaysians.
Eva Zygmunt, Kristin Cipollone, Patricia Clark, and Susan Tancock
Community-engaged teacher preparation is an innovative paradigm through which to prepare socially just, equity-focused teachers with the capacity to enact pedagogies that are culturally relevant, responsive, and sustaining. Operationalized through candidates’ situated learning in historically marginalized communities, this approach emphasizes the concerted cultivation of collaborative relationships among universities, communities, and schools; the elevation of funds of knowledge and community cultural wealth; and an in-depth analysis of social inequality and positionality, and the intersections between the two, as essential knowledge for future teachers. As a means through which to address the persistent achievement gap between racially, socioeconomically, and linguistically nondominant and dominant students, community-engaged teacher preparation is a prototype through which to advance educational equity.
Paula Groves Price
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
Race has historically been, and continues to be, a significant issue in all aspects of American society. In the field of education, racial inequality is prominent in the areas of access, opportunity, and outcomes. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a framework that offers researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers a race-conscious approach to understanding educational inequality and structural racism to find solutions that lead to greater justice. Placing race at the center of analysis, Critical Race Theory scholars interrogate policies and practices that are taken for granted to uncover the overt and covert ways that racist ideologies, structures, and institutions create and maintain racial inequality.
In the field of education, CRT is a helpful tool for analyzing policy issues such as school funding, segregation, language policies, discipline policies, and testing and accountability policies. It is also helpful for critically examining the larger issues of epistemology and knowledge production, which are reflected in curriculum and pedagogy. As education is one of the major institutions of knowledge production and dissemination, CRT scholars often push the field to critically examine the master or dominant narratives reproduced in schools and the counter-narratives that are silenced. CRT is a theoretical framework that provides education researchers, policy makers, and practitioners with critical lenses to deconstruct oppressive policies and practices and to construct more emancipatory systems for racial equity and justice.
In 1903, standing at the dawn of the 20th century, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote that the color line is the defining characteristic of American society. Well into the 21st century, Du Bois’s prescience sadly still rings true. Even when a society is built on a commitment to equality, and even with the election of its first black president, the United States has been unsuccessful in bringing about an end to the rampant and violent effects of racism, as numerous acts of racial violence in the media have shown. For generations, scholars of color, among them Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Franz Fanon, have maintained that whiteness lies at the center of the problem of racism. It is only relatively recently that the critical study of whiteness has become an academic field, committed to disrupting racism by problematizing whiteness as a corrective to the traditional exclusive focus on the racialized “other.”
Critical Whiteness Studies (CWS) is a growing field of scholarship whose aim is to reveal the invisible structures that produce and reproduce white supremacy and privilege. CWS presumes a certain conception of racism that is connected to white supremacy. In advancing the importance of vigilance among white people, CWS examines the meaning of white privilege and white privilege pedagogy, as well as how white privilege is connected to complicity in racism. Unless white people learn to acknowledge, rather than deny, how whites are complicit in racism, and until white people develop an awareness that critically questions the frames of truth and conceptions of the “good” through which they understand their social world, Du Bois’s insight will continue to ring true.
Roxanne M. Mitchell
Scholars have suggested that the study of school leadership has been dominated by Anglo-American and Western views. This has provoked a call for conceptual and empirical research on school leadership using a cross-cultural perspective. In their 2005 work, Dimmock and Walker provided a comprehensive Framework for the Study of Cross-Cultural School Leadership that responded to the deficit of non-Western views. They, along with others, have argued that principals play a vital role in shaping school culture and that there is a need to expand our conceptualization of culture to include organizational, local, regional, national, and global culture.
Hofstede’s Model and the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) research program, initiated by Robert House in 1991, are examples of empirical models for the study of cross-cultural leadership. Ylimaki and Jacobson’s (2011) International Study of Successful School Principals (ISSPP) examined the common cross-cultural practices and policy concerns across seven global educational contexts. Their findings pointed to some common policy concerns that involve accountability, principal preparation, and the need for principals who are culturally competent. They stressed the importance of rigorous systematic research studies, reliable and valid instruments, and reconsideration of philosophies about educational administration that incorporate non-Western views and utilize a cross-cultural perspective. Some common practices cross-culturally included having high expectations, engaging in instructional and transformational leadership, shared leadership with teachers, capacity development, heroic leadership that challenged the status quo, and an emphasis on continuous learning and professional development.
In South Africa, new legislation and policies on inclusive education in the post-apartheid era since 1994 have placed a strong emphasis on equity, equality, and human rights, as defined in the South African Constitution. As a result, a White Paper on building an inclusive education and training system was published in 2001. It acknowledges the failure of the education system to respond to the barriers to learning and development experienced by a substantial number of learners, including diverse learning needs caused by, for example, language, socioeconomic, or gender issues as well as disabilities. This policy document describes inclusive education as being based on the ideals of equity and equality and as a result recognizing and respecting learner and learning diversity within mainstream schools. As stated in the policy, in practice this means identifying and removing barriers in the education system to ensure that the full range of diverse learning needs are met in mainstream classrooms as well as providing support to learners and teachers in addressing barriers to learning and development.
Research studies on the implementation of inclusive education in South Africa, however, are finding that despite the development of a wide range of implementation guidelines since 2007, complex interrelated issues continue to complicate the development of successful inclusive schools. These issues include a continued divergence of views of inclusive education with a continuing strong belief in special education and separate educational settings by most teachers, therefore leading to a resultant lack of clarity regarding the implementation of inclusive education at the level of local practice in schools and classrooms. These differences in the understanding of inclusive education and its enactment in diverse school contexts also bring the question of power and agency into South African debates about inclusive education: who should decide which version of inclusive education should be the goal of the development of inclusive education in a specific school district or a specific school. Furthermore, contextual issues including the lack of financial and human resources, for example effectively trained teachers, effectively functioning district educational support teams for schools in specific school districts, lack of textbooks, and overcrowded classrooms, play a dominant role in the development of effective inclusive schools.
Pamela J. Bettis and Nicole Ferry
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the international bestseller, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013), argues that women need to engage more actively in the workplace and take the professional and emotional risks required in leadership. In many ways, Sandberg’s own story is the fulfillment of the promise of the “Alpha Girl,” Harvard psychologist Dan Kindlon’s name for the new face of girlhood. Kindlon maintains that contemporary young Western women have initiated a new era of female empowerment, with girls interested mainly in future careers and not romantic relationships. Meanwhile, the U.S. public discourse pertaining to boys frames them as troubled and in need of more attention. The popular press notes that girls outperform boys in school; that boys are more likely to repeat a grade; more likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability; and more likely to be expelled, suspended, and disciplined in school. Furthermore, adolescents who do not adhere to gender normativity or who identify as transgender are continually neglected in mainstream considerations of youth, school policies, curriculum, and educational spaces. Over the course of recent decades, U.S. discourses of adolescence and gender, including those found in popular and academic discussions, have shifted. As girls become the new models of success, as boys are deemed worthy of extra attention, and as gender-transgressive students remain absent from the discussions altogether, it is imperative that educators keep abreast of these changing discourses that shape the way we talk about and understand youth.
Hannu Simola, Jaakko Kauko, Janne Varjo, Mira Kalalahti, and Fritjof Sahlström
The international debate on Finnish educational “success” had made relevant a cultural and historical analysis of Finnish education, with a focus on the effects of the ongoing preoccupation with the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results on basic education. Such international comparisons demand a strong theoretical approach, in part because the contrastive analysis of empirical “facts” and “realities” requires that they be situated in relation to their local and, in this case, national systems and contexts. It may be assumed that the quantitative indicators agreed on in intergovernmental negotiations between senior bureaucrats do indeed provide valid comparisons of education systems, as is the conventional wisdom in the field of economics. Nevertheless, these remain value-loaded collections of indicators of development that offer at best parallel lines of comparative analysis. The Finnish case argues for strong theory-based conceptualizations as the basis for, first, complex comparison and, second, shared models of policy action and intervention.
The comparative education field faces four interlinked challenges. First, there is a lack of theory building and development in the field, where politically and ideologically motivated investigative large-scale assessment practices are defining the state of the art. Second, the focus of the studies tends to be on empirically measurable end products instead of documented processes, which makes it possible to generate competitive rankings but reveals little about specific and shared developmental processes in educational systems. Third, although complexity and contingency are widely accepted in the social world on the general level, they appear to seldom reach empirical studies; the vast majority of standard approaches still advocate simple explanatory models. Finally, and paradoxically enough, there is a form of intellectual nationalism that inhibits the conceptualization and understanding of the relationship between, for example, transnational processes and nation-states. In this regard, comparative education needs a strong and ambitious theory-based framework with the potential to incorporate sociohistorical complexity, cultural relationality, and sociological contingency. Without a strong theory-driven approach, it is hard to go beyond merely listing the similarities and differences that facilitate the rankings but blur the processes.
At the research unit for Sociology and Politics in Education (KUPOLI) at the University of Helsinki, a new conceptualization was formulated in early 2010s and an ambitious research plan, Comparative Analytics of Dynamics in Education Politics (CADEP), was launched. The thesis was that to progress beyond the state of the art and arrive at a comparative understanding of educational systems, it would be necessary to focus on dynamics, with a view to grasping the fluid and mobile nature of the subject. This heuristic starting point echoed relativistic dynamics in physics, characterized as a combination of relativistic and quantum theories to describe the relationships between the principal elements of a relativistic system and the forces acting on it. It is curious that, though on the conceptual level the dynamics of a system are constantly referred to as being among its key attributes, there has been little progress on the analytical level in the social sciences since the seminal work of Pitirim Sorokin in the 1950s. The CADEP develops conceptually the theoretical understanding of dynamics to resubmit a specific social field of education to scrutiny by analyzing the relations between the main actors and institutions and essential discursive formations and practices. It is assumed that given its connection with relations and movement, the concept of dynamics will not reduce a mobile and fluid subject of study to a stagnant and inanimate object. There are four constitutive dynamics that make the Finnish educational success story understandable. Success and failure in basic education seem to be relative, and to reflect intertwined dynamics in policymaking, governance, families’ educational strategies, and classroom cultures. The emphasis of the understanding is on the contingent, relational, and complex character of political history.
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.
China has a long history of education, and its institutionalized educational administration can be traced back more than 2,000 years. Since then, the educational administration system has evolved with the development of society, politics, economy, and culture, and an educational administration system with significant Chinese characteristics has been formed.
The current educational administration system in China is stipulated by different laws and regulations of the country. The State Council and local governments are responsible for guiding and administering educational work at various levels and according to particular administrative principles. Such an educational administration system in China is related not only to the history of the centralized culture, but also to the administration system of the country.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the world is undergoing profound changes, and China is currently at a key stage for reform and development. World multi-polarization, globalization of economy, development of knowledge economy, dramatic changes in science and technology, competition for talent worldwide, and industrialization, informatization, urbanization, marketization, and internationalization trends in China all pose severe challenges to education and its administration. At the same time, there remain some serious problems to be solved in educational administration.
Facing these challenges and problems, the Chinese government has called for reforms to promote and modernize the educational governance system. The new educational governance system emphasizes empowerment, autonomy, shared governance, social participation in policy making, and administration.
Mei Wu, MaryJo Benton Lee, Forrest W. Parkay, and Paul Pitre
Since the 1950s, China has had a “dual system” for the education of the country’s 56 ethnic minority groups. Though Article 4 of China’s 1982 Constitution states that “All nationalities in the People’s Republic of China are equal,” the quality of education for ethnic minorities is lower than that provided for the Han majority. Linguistic, cultural, economic, and geographic differences among China’s ethnic groups have resulted in unequal educational opportunities and outcomes for different groups. Several factors contribute to these inequities: a shortage of qualified minority teachers, inadequate professional development for teachers, few textbooks and learning materials in minority languages, curricula that do not reflect local knowledge, limited use of educational technology in classrooms, and poor communication between schools and communities. To date, policies and regulations developed by the Chinese government to address these problems have met with limited success. If China’s ethnic minorities are to benefit from China’s rapid socioeconomic development and rising stature on the world stage, the education they receive must reflect more appropriate language policies, innovative teaching practices, and enriched learning resources.
In 1982, Denny Taylor coined the term “family literacy” to reference the ways young children and their parents interact around texts. Since then, the term family literacy has generally been applied to the practices that occur in homes to support young children as they become readers and writers. However, 30 years later, this definition negates the full scope of possibilities that might inform our understandings of the literacy practices that occur within home spaces and among family members. These possibilities reflect two important trends increasingly recognized within literacy research communities. First, technological advances have affected the ways people read and write and the multimodal literacy practices that have come to define literacy in families and homes. These developments are often the focus of New Literacy Studies as defined by the New London Group and others. Second, while generally not addressed in terms of family literacy, a substantial and growing body of research has documented the out-of-school literacy practices of adolescents and youth. Many of these literacy practices are enacted and displayed in home settings. While connections between out-of-school literacy practices and family literacy are generally not explicit, homes and families provide significant social contexts that are critical to engaging in technological, peer-informed, and popular culture practices. In short, family literacy does not end once children learn to read. In contrast, family literacy assumes new forms and involves new modalities that both echo and extend the literacy practices found within families. This is significant, as it challenges conceptions of adolescent and youth literacy as being separate from the literacy practices of families.
To extend what is meant by family literacy, it is redefined as more than traditional activities that involve young children with texts. Instead, researchers are challenged to consider the full range of literacy practices that occur among family members and within homes across time. In doing this, family literacy and new literacy studies are brought together. Thus, the term family/home literacy is used to recognize not only the literacy practices that are enacted between children and parents, but the full range of literacy practices that occur among all family members—including siblings, extended family members, and friends. In short, family/home literacy practices are intertwined with home literacy affordances, which include the texts, opportunities, and technological resources that are available and used in homes. In order to explore family/home literacies over time, children’s literacy practices, including traditional and technological family/home literacy practices, are explored. Issues raised include parental mentoring of school-age children as they encounter new technologies at home, the adaptation of available resources by children as they move into and through adolescence, and transactions involving texts (both traditional and digital) among adolescents, young adults, and their parents.
Gypsies are a minority community whose lives are often shaped by multiple oppressions. While their ethnicity can be linked to accounts of migration stretching back over 1,000 years, to Northern India, the historic details surrounding this movement are often contested within academic debates and largely unknown in public discourses. There are similar gaps in knowledge about important moments in Gypsy history, including their settlement, and often enslavement, in many European countries and the devastating impact of the Nazi Holocaust. This lack of knowledge has contributed to the persistence of racist stereotypes about Gypsies, who are often associated with dirtiness, itinerancy, and criminality. Within these stereotypes is a tendency to identify “real” Gypsies as a nomadic, traveling group of people. While movement and travel remain important elements of Gypsy identity, the reality for many families is that they lead relatively settled lifestyles. This should be unsurprising given the history of European settlement and slavery; however, one consequence has been for non-nomadic Gypsies to have their identity called into question.
Schools are one area where Gypsies and non-Gypsies encounter each other closely. Schools are also a field in which Gypsy children and families are under pressure to conform to wider educational policy making. Schools often appear to be a context in which the multiple oppressions experienced by Gypsies are foregrounded. Gypsy pupils regularly experience bullying and racism from their peers, other parents, and school staff. Gypsy parents fear their children will lose aspects of their cultural identity by engaging with schools, a concern exacerbated by beliefs that non-Gypsy adolescent culture is driven by risky behaviors such as promiscuity, drinking, and drug taking. At the same time policy makers have increasingly identified the nomadic Gypsy identity as a category through which to shape and understand Gypsy pupils’ educational experiences. This nomadic identity highlights some specific structural flaws in how education may or may not be delivered to Gypsy pupils. There has been widespread concern for many years that the biggest underlying factor making school attendance problematic for Gypsy children has been homelessness. Many families lack secure accommodation not because they persist with a nomadic lifestyle but because of a shortage of Gypsy and Traveler sites. Recent UK legislation has made the development of new Gypsy and Traveler sites much less likely by requiring Gypsy families to prove their “nomadic” identity. At a more local level, there is evidence that schools understand a distinction between delivering a sedentary and a nomadic education (often in order to demonstrate an awareness of policy making). However, this identification of pupils as nomadic both misrepresents the realities of their identity and also, more troublingly, is often used to explain why pupils no longer attend school.
The study of educational administration in the United Kingdom began in a limited way in the 1970s, but it became much more significant following the 1988 Education Reform Act, which gave substantial powers to principals and school governing bodies. This led to the scope of leadership and administration being greatly expanded to include management of finance, staff, pupil admissions, and school site, as well as their traditional role as instructional leaders.
Provision for public education was disaggregated beginning in 1999, when education was devolved to assemblies in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, as part of the government’s devolution agenda. In England, the government established the National College for School Leadership in 2000; this had a major impact on policy, research, and practice for the next decade, before its decline from 2013, and its eventual closure in 2016. School leadership preparation is now at a crossroads, within an increasingly fragmented schools system and without the national voice that the National College provided.
Kalwant Bhopal and Martin Myers
Home schooling (often referred to as “home education” in the United Kingdom) is a decision made by many types of families to take direct responsibility for their children’s education rather than sending them to school. Home schooling is an increasingly popular choice for parents in Europe and North America. In many respects the ubiquity of schooling is a relatively recent innovation reflecting the increasing management of educational practices by the state. Traditionally, home schooling may have been the only option available to many families until the 20th century.
In the United States the return toward home schooling became an identifiable trend among disparate types of families in the late 1960s. On the one hand it appealed to conservative, Christian evangelical families who have argued that education is the responsibility of the family and who also wanted schooling to reflect their personal religious values. On the other hand, home schooling was the choice of radical and liberal parents who challenged both the pedagogical practices of schools and the types of knowledge prevalent in the curriculum.
More recently, however, a more heterogeneous and diverse range of families have increasingly turned toward home schooling. These include families from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, those whose children have special educational needs, and those who are dissatisfied with the education that schools offer their children. In tandem with the growth in numbers there has been widespread concern that parents who choose to home school are putting their children at risk of physical abuse, neglect, lack of interaction with others, and poor educational outcomes.
The identification of the risks of home schooling is often a controversial subject, not least because many home schoolers specifically choose this route in response to the risks they associate with sending their children to school. For many families, their decisions to home educate are often entangled within contested discourses shaped by ethnicity, religious, cultural affiliations, or a dissatisfaction with the education mainstream schools offer. For black and minority ethnic families, home schooling is often a strategy adopted to counter the racism, oppression or inequity their children experience in schools. For other families, such as those with children who have special educational needs, schools are simply unable to cater to their children’s needs. How parents manage the different risks associated with making this decision is key to understanding the complexities of home education and why some families chose to do it, while others do not.
One of the largest reforms in the school systems of European countries is inclusive schooling. All over Europe, enrollment of students with special educational needs (SEN) in regular classrooms is rising, and at the same time, the proportion of students with SEN in segregated school settings is declining. Despite a significant push to implement inclusive education across the countries of the European Union, the concept of inclusive education still remains unclear, and the practical implementation of it is limited in most countries. There are huge variations across countries in the challenges they face and the way they are attempting to implement inclusion in their region. For example, whether a child with SEN will attend inclusive or special education is a decision made by different stakeholders in different countries. While in some countries this choice is typically made by parents, in other countries professionals decide which school is most appropriate for students with SEN. Moreover, the resources available to implement inclusive education differ widely across Europe.
Jayanthi Narayan and Nibedita Patnaik
Education is a fundamental right of all children, including those with special educational needs. Efforts toward achieving this right have resulted in focused attention from governments the world over, improving the quality of education in schools and thus leading to dignified social status for the students who were marginalized earlier and denied admission to schools. This worldwide movement following various international conventions and mandates has resulted in local efforts to reach rural remote areas with education by the governments in most countries. Although there has been significant progress in reaching children, the spread is not uniform. Children living in rural and tribal areas or in remote parts of countries still have many barriers preventing them from receiving education. The essence of inclusive education is to build the capacity to reach out to all children, promoting equity. While in the 1990s special needs education was a focus, the importance of it becoming part of the overall educational system led to reforms in regular schools resulting in inclusive education to address diverse learning needs of children. How successful are we in these efforts, particularly in the remote and rural areas?
Special and inclusive education in rural and remote areas has varied models and practices. Educating children with special educational needs in rural and remote areas is a challenge. Although there are schools in such areas, not all are equipped to address the needs of children with special needs. Further, the teachers working in rural areas in many countries are not trained to teach those with special needs nor are there technological support systems as there are in urban areas. Yet, interestingly, in some rural and tribal communities, the teachers are naturally at ease with children with diverse needs, as the schools tend to have heterogeneous classes, with one teacher having to teach combined groups of different grade levels. There is evidence that rural teachers show less resistance to include children with special needs when compared to urban teachers. Community supports in rural areas due to rural residents’ relatively homogeneous lifestyle is another supporting factor for smooth inclusion in some rural areas. While primary education is ensured in most rural and remote areas, the children have to travel long distances to semi-urban and urban areas for secondary and higher education, a hardship that is compounded further when there is a disability. It is observed in many rural areas that children with special needs tend to learn the traditional job skills pertaining to that area naturally, though such lessons are not always blended in the school curriculum. Teacher preparation for rural areas that includes the latest technological developments and vocation-focused education is bound to make education more meaningful and will encourage natural inclusion of the children in society.