While countries across the Asia-Pacific region have since the early 2000s been very forthright in acknowledging the international conventions and declarations that promote inclusive education, there still seems to be a substantial 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 enable children with disabilities to attend a regular school. Some policies go further and state that this should be with 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 through 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 all students to achieve the same curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment as the way to equity.
Countries across the Asia-Pacific region, like elsewhere, 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. Cultural differences, beliefs, values, and understandings associated with inclusion and disability vary enormously across the Asia-Pacific region and are often firmly embedded within historical contexts. These invariably have strong impact on acceptance and in decision-making regarding what constitutes appropriate teacher preparation for working in more inclusive schools. Regardless of context, effective teacher education requires skilled teacher educators who have received full training in regard to inclusion and who are also aware of the needs of classroom teachers when asked to operate an inclusive classroom, within different cultural contexts, and the potential additional strains of large class sizes, and often limited resources. A variety of different models have been applied throughout the Asia-Pacific region to prepare teachers for inclusion with inconsistent outcomes.
Edmund T. Hamann, Juan Sánchez García, and Yara Amparo López López
While teaching and therefore teacher education in Mexico can, in one sense, be traced back to pre-Conquest Aztec military academies, the first significant expansion of Western-style schooling in Mexico occurred in the early 19th century, while the first substantial national efforts at teacher education date to the Porfiriato in the late 19th century. In the 100-plus-year history of teacher education in Mexico, attention has been episodic, has often reflected national refractions of ideas originating elsewhere, and has been centrally intertwined with national governmental efforts to shape what it means to be Mexican. Variously, teacher education has been buffeted by attempts to be Catholic, modern, secular, socialist, neoliberal, and globally competitive economically. In all of this, there has been a tension between centralist (focusing on Mexico City) and nationalist impulses, on the one hand (making teaching patriotic work and the teachers’ union part of the national government), and attention to regional variations, including Mexico’s indigenous populations, rural populations, and economic diversity, on the other. While Mexico’s more than two million teachers may all work in the same country, where one is trained (i.e., which escuela normal, or normal school), where one works (from public schools in affluent and stable neighborhoods to rural telesecundarias where resources are scarce and teachers are not expected to be content area experts), how many shifts one works (it is common for Mexican educators to work at more than one school to compensate for limited salary), which state one works in (funding varies significantly by state), and what in-service professional development one has access to all mean for variations in teacher preparation and teacher praxis.