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date: 23 July 2019

Teacher Education and Inclusion in the Asia-Pacific Region

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education. Please check back later for the full article.

While countries across the Asia-Pacific region have in recent years been very forthright in acknowledging the international conventions and declarations that promote inclusive education, there still seems to be a huge gap between policy and school expectations in most educational systems. Many of the less developed countries have adopted the terminology in the Education for All framework and applied this within their own education policies. Thus, country policies promote an “inclusive approach to education” that enables children with disabilities to attend a regular school. Some policies go further and state that this attendance should include appropriate differentiation and support. Unfortunately, this is where the strength of the shift in education seems to end for many of the Asia-Pacific countries. There appears to be an ongoing lack of understanding that inclusion means that not all students will achieve by the “same old” ways and that outcomes will need to be different. In other words, governments promote inclusion through policy, but at the same time continue to expect schools to help students to achieve via the same curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment as the way to be equitable for all students.

As countries across the Asia-Pacific region vary enormously in their cultural diversity and in their ability to respond to inclusion, models of teacher education, likewise, will vary and must be focused on what is contextually viable and culturally acceptable within each individual country. Effective teacher education requires skilled teacher educators who have received full training themselves about inclusion and who are also aware of the needs of classroom teachers when asked to operate an inclusive classroom within the additional constraints of large class sizes and often limited resources. Various models have been applied throughout the Asia-Pacific region with inconsistent outcomes.