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Article

Sarah L. Alvarado, Sarah M. Salinas, and Alfredo J. Artiles

Inclusive teacher education (ITE) defines the professional training of preservice teachers to work in learning spaces encompassing students from all circumstances, regardless of race, linguistic background, gender, socioeconomic status, and special education needs (SEN). This preparation includes the content, pedagogy, and formative experiences required for teachers to work in inclusive schools. To fully understand ITE, it is necessary to examine what is meant by inclusive education (IE). Indeed, it is essential to explore ITE’s definition since scholars and teacher educators have struggled to agree on what is meant by IE. In addition to disagreements about IE’s definition, support for this idea and its implementation may vary due to the cultural, historical, and political differences specific to local contexts. For these reasons, it is necessary to recognize the inclusive policies, practices, and processes that often shape definitions and concepts related to ITE. Notwithstanding the ambitious meanings of ITE across the globe, researchers, professionals, and policymakers tend to emphasize a vision of teacher preparation for working with students with disabilities (SWD) or SEN. Also, there is no consensus about which particular aspects matter in teacher education programs, primarily based on ideological differences about the core goals of IE. These differences in views and beliefs have resulted in limited understandings and applications of ITE. For instance, a student with an SEN may also come from a family living in poverty, with no access to books in the home, or speak multiple languages, including languages that are not a part of their first (formal) educational experiences. In such circumstances, there is no agreement about whether ITE programs should focus on students’ linguistic, socioeconomic, learning differences, or multiple factors. We review the research on ITE in various national contexts. We also discuss how scholars have conceptualized the preparation of future teachers and the implications for greater clarity on how teacher preparation can improve IE in an increasingly diverse society.

Article

Sociocultural perspectives on curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment support teachers in developing and implementing inclusive pedagogies. Sociocultural assessment approaches disregard impairment as an identity in itself, privileging the strengths and knowledge evident in observed interactions. A sociocultural approach to assessment recognizes the dynamic interaction between teaching, learning, and assessment, spread across people, places, and time. Where traditional forms of curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment focus on a decontextualized individual, a sociocultural perspective pays close attention to contexts. Teachers’ practices, expectations, and understandings of learning and diversity form a key part of the contexts. In culturally responsive paradigms, learning is recognized as sociocultural—being informed through interactions with others. All students are recognized and valued as people who gain experiences and knowledge across many contexts. Multiple perspectives are valued as shared understandings and constructions of learning are developed in response to observations and interactions in a community of learners—where students and teachers learn with and from each other. Teachers who recognize themselves as capable of teaching everyone in the class are more likely to recognize everyone as a learner, to think critically about their positioning and understanding of disability, and to plan teaching, learning, and assessment in inclusive ways of working.

Article

Inclusive education is a widely accepted pedagogical and policy principle, but its genesis has been long and, at times, difficult. For example, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights included statements about rights and freedoms that have, over the decades, been used to promote inclusive educational practices. Article 26 of the Declaration stated that parents “have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.” This declaration later helped some parent groups and educators to advocate for equal access to schooling in regular settings, and for parental choice about where their child would be educated. Following the widespread influence of the human rights-based principle of normalization, the concept of inclusive education received major impetus from the Education of All Handicapped Children Act in the United States in 1975, the United Nations (UN) International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. A major focus of the UN initiatives has been the right of people with a disability to participate fully in society. This focus has obvious consequences for the way education is provided to students with a disability or other additional educational needs. For many years, up to the last quarter of the 20th century, the major focus for such students was on the provision of separate specialized services, with limited attention to the concept of full participation in society. Toward the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, there has been increasing acceptance, through parental action, systemic policy, and government legislation, of inclusivity as a basic philosophical principle. Both the type of instruction that should be provided to students with a disability and the location of that instruction in regular or specialized settings have been topics for advocacy and research, sometimes with mixed and/or controversial conclusions.

Article

Africa is associated with Ubuntu values such as inclusiveness and treating others with fairness and human dignity. Such values align with human rights and social justice principles and are also integral to a social approach to inclusive education. However, there are several contextual and interconnected dynamics—environmental, cultural, and systemic—which impact on education systems and must be acknowledged when considering inclusive and special education. Several global developments have been endorsed and ratified by most African countries, such as the Education for All campaign, the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, the Millennium Development Goals, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, the Education 2030 Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action for the implementation of the SDG 4 framework, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Furthermore, due to an African renaissance in the building of human capital since the 19th century, education policies and practices are also transforming to address the specific needs of the African context. Human rights and social justice are sanctioned as basic principles of education by the majority of African countries. Great strides have consequently been made in the development of education policies to address the inclusive education drive. However, the emphasis in these education policies seems to be on integrating students with special needs or disabilities into public education, mainly by placing them in separate units or classes attached to mainstream schools, or in special schools. It is therefore essential that, within the Ubuntu approach of everyone belonging to a greater community, both local communities and wider society make a commitment wherein interactive political, cultural, social, environmental, and systemic dynamics influencing learning, as well as causing learning breakdown, are acknowledged and addressed. A focus on the individual child as a problem to be remediated and segregated from mainstream society and education should therefore be rejected. Consequently, The education community (including governments, education departments, local education offices, schools, teachers, parents, and learners) must regularly come together to reflect and develop in-depth understanding of the philosophy, theory, terminology, and practice of inclusive education within the African context, which should then reflect in specific developed policies and consequent practices.

Article

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 (in most European countries). Despite a significant push to implement inclusive education across the countries of the European Union, its practical implementation is limited in most of the countries. There are huge variations across the countries in the way they are attempting to implement inclusion as well as unique challenges that each country faces. For example, the decision of whether a child with SEN will attend inclusive or special education is made by different stakeholders in different countries. While in some countries this choice is mainly 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.

Article

Children with disabilities have a variety of needs that require the expertise of several individuals. Multidisciplinary teams include professionals such as teachers, psychologists, social workers, physiotherapists, and resource teachers, who provide support services that help children with disabilities in inclusive educational environments. These teams often include social workers, but in India the role of the social worker is often overlooked and social workers have to struggle to prove their value. Historically, very few social worker education programs have offered specializations or training in inclusive education, and most social workers who worked with children with disabilities in inclusive settings learn the requisite knowledge, attitudes, and skills on the job. Many used the traditional model of social work rehabilitation, which focuses on the individual without relating to social and environmental contexts. The Center for Disability Studies and Action at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, India, designed a full-time master’s program in Social Work in Disability Studies and Action, which trains social work professionals to work holistically with people with disabilities, including children with disabilities in inclusive educational settings. The master’s program combines the professional skills and knowledge components for social workers with the core values of inclusive education.

Article

The implementation of inclusive education in school systems creates new working conditions for all professionals. As a consequence, roles and responsibilities need to be redefined between general education teachers and special educators, and teacher education must be reformed to prepare professionals for the working environment they face in the 21st century. Three theoretical approaches guide the current discourse on teacher education. The competence theory approach focuses on the identification and acquisition of specific competencies. The structural theory approach stresses the importance of dealing with uncertainties and antinomies in the teaching profession. The professional biographical approach highlights the ongoing process of individual professionalization and includes biographical research. Taking the changing working environment into account, a three-pillar model is suggested for teacher education of future primary and secondary teachers, primary and secondary teachers with a focus on special education, and special educators as external support for schools.

Article

Martin Mwongela Kavua

Educational reforms have been made from time to time since independence in Kenya. These reforms have been effected through commissions of education in the context of the country. Among education commissions that have steered reforms in Kenya are the Kenya Education Commission, the National Commission on Education Objectives and Policy, the Presidential Working Party on the Second University, the Commission of Inquiry into the Educational System of Kenya, and the Taskforce on the Realignment of the Sector to the New System. The main challenges facing the education sector have been issues of access, equity, quality, relevance, availability of educational resources, and efficiency in managing them. Moreover, the education system has been blamed for some of the challenges in the education sector, necessitating system change from the 8+4+4 to the 2+6+3+3+3 system. Challenges facing education reforms include inconsistency in carrying out reforms fueled by lack of a guiding philosophical framework, a top-down decision-making process, limited backing for inclusive education in policy, and curriculum-based challenges. Going forward, a bottom-up approach to education reforms, an evidence-based decision-making for reforms in education, and an implementation of inclusive education may play a significant role in reforming the education system.

Article

This article presents a critical analysis of inclusive teacher education. The article argues that while teacher education programs have changed dramatically over the last few decades, there are still areas where more progress could be made. It also argues for a need to re-conceptualize the way we prepare teachers so that they can confidently include all learners. It presents a framework, largely influenced by the work of Shulman, which could be applied for the preparation of pre-service teachers to teach in inclusive classrooms.

Article

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.

Article

It is important to consider inclusive and effective teacher practices in secondary classrooms as distinct from other schooling levels and settings. Many years of inclusive education reforms have brought about increases in the numbers of students with disabilities who are educated in the regular school system. However, progress has been slower for secondary school students with disabilities, who remain more likely to be segregated from their peers and to receive a poorer-quality education, when compared to their primary school counterparts. This is because many barriers to student inclusion remain entrenched in the structure and organization of secondary schooling systems. These barriers often arise from seeing difficulties in learning and participating through a medical model and thus requiring diagnostic verification and specialist support, instead of seeing student difficulties in learning as arising from a social model of disability, in which student participation and progress are hampered by poor design or inflexibility in teaching practices and a lack of access to support. A large body of research exists to support the case for using a range of school-wide organization as well as classroom-based practices that effectively overcome these barriers, and provide high-quality and equitable academic and social supports to all students in the secondary school classroom. Those that foster collaboration and effective relationships between professionals and students, and that provide access to support on the basis of need rather than diagnosis, have been found to produce supportive environments in which diversity is valued, equity is maximized for all students, and social and academic outcomes are improved for all students.

Article

Zana Marie Lutfiyya and Nadine A. Bartlett

Rooted in the principles of social justice, inclusive societies afford all individuals and groups regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, ability, religion, immigration status, and socioeconomic status access to and full participation in society. The movement toward inclusive societies is progressive, and continues to occur incrementally. Regrettably, there are deeply rooted belief systems and norms of exclusion, which continue to create barriers to the achievement of more inclusive societies. Some of the contemporary issues that stymie the development of inclusive societies include but are not limited to (a) the marginalization of Indigenous languages, (b) the denial of basic human rights, such as healthcare, to undocumented migrants, and (c) differential access to inclusive education for individuals with disabilities. Using a framework of analysis developed by Therborn, which describes the actualization of inclusive societies as a five-step incremental process—(1) visibility, (2) consideration, (3) access to social interactions, (4) rights, and (5) resources to fully participate in society and Social Role Valorization theory (SRV)—and posits the need for all individuals to hold valued social roles, continued progress toward the achievement of more inclusive societies might be attained.

Article

In the last decade, inclusive education policies have been one of the priorities within the pedagogical and social agendas of different South American countries. However, the great complexity and enormous diversity of both concepts (inclusive education and South America) demand a detailed analysis of what it means to strive for educational progress throughout such an extensive territory. On the one hand, inclusive education encompasses both traditional special education as well as other key issues that are closely linked: equity, quality, diversity, universality, access, participation, intersectionality, rights, individualization, and so on. On the other hand, South America is a real, complex, multifaceted territory in which different countries with very different political, economic, and social situations coexist (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay, and Venezuela). As such, it is necessary to begin with comparative education and educational policy in order to understand the different educational priorities of each region as well as the organizations and stakeholders that have an impact. The development of inclusive education has not been uniform. Indeed, because there is no consensus regarding what inclusion means and represents, though there have been correlations, its evolution has been unequal throughout different countries. A study of both national and transnational inclusive educational policies will allow us to better understand and approximate this complex reality, as well as to anticipate forthcoming educational challenges.

Article

Altering a dual system of education (special and ordinary) in South Africa to an inclusive system requires substantial change in terms of thinking and practice. After almost 20 years of implementing Education White Paper 6 (published by South Africa’s Department of Education in 2001), it is very important that theories, assumptions, practices, models, and tools are put under intense scrutiny for such an inclusive policy to work. Such a single system of education should develop the capacity to address barriers to learning if it wants to include all learners into the system. What are the main barriers that deprive learners from access to a single system of education and what changes should take place so that a truly inclusive system can be created? South Africa introduced seven white papers in education but all of them were implemented in ways that were not entirely influenced by the theory and practice of inclusive education. Inclusive education requires the system to change at a structural level so that mainstream education takes ownership of the ideology and practice of inclusive education. This change should bring about consistency in relation to other white papers; for example, curriculum development, early childhood education, and adult education. In implementing inclusive education, South Africa did not take seriously the various barriers to inclusion, such as curriculum, in providing access to learners who experience difficulties. Thus, an in-depth analysis of the history of special education is provided, with a view toward specifying recommendations for attempts to create the right conditions for a truly inclusive system of education in South Africa.

Article

Susan Baglieri and Jessica Bacon

Disability studies (DS) is a transdisciplinary field of scholarly inquiry whose members seek to understand disability and disablement as cultural phenomena. Scholars who adopt disability studies in education (DSE) perspectives aim to understand how disability is conceptually configured in the research and practice that shape learning, education, and schooling. The DSE field strives to discern and theorize medical and social models of disability in order to promote critical examination of the cultural conditions in which educational practices are performed. The commitments and understandings that arise within DSE lead proponents to conceptualize inclusive education reform as a radical project, and call for the development of policy, teaching, and teacher education practices that acknowledge and resist ableism.

Article

Lawrence J. Maheady and Angela L. Patti

Teacher preparation programs are undergoing a shift from knowledge-based to practice-based, meaning the emphasis is on what teacher candidates can do, rather than what they know. In light of this movement, high leverage practices (HLPs)—a set of core practices that educational experts agree all teachers should be able to do upon entering the teaching field—have been developed in several different educational areas (e.g., general education and special education). As experts develop sets of HLPs, they identify practices that (a) are researched based, (b) are often used by teachers during the school day, (c) can be applied across grade levels and subject areas, (d) are fundamental to student learning, and (e) can be taught, practiced, and developed to some degree of fluency by teachers entering the profession. The idea is that these practices can be used as a core curriculum for teacher preparation programs. While initial work with HLPs is promising, additional questions must be answered before moving forward. Institutions of higher education that choose to use HLPs to frame their teacher preparation programs need to determine (a) which HLPs to use, (b) how to integrate HLPs into the program, (c) how to assess teacher candidate fluency with HLPs, and (d) how to evaluate the effects of HLPs on P–12 students. As these questions are answered, further light can be shed on what truly makes a practice worthy of the designation “high leverage.”

Article

Efforts to support education for all students have increasingly become priorities for governments around the world. Key international agreements, including the Sustainable Development Goals and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, have provided foundational direction to jurisdictions in implementing policies to engage all students including those with special education needs. As initiatives to support equitable and inclusive education for all become more widespread globally, it is important to consider how these efforts affect economically wealthy countries. Using the example of Canada, and specifically the province of Ontario, implications of supporting education for all through the framework of inclusive education are examined. These implications include funding, teaching commitment and training, resources, and privatization. Inclusive education refers to the ability of all students, regardless of gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, or ability, to attend their neighborhood community school and be in classes with similar aged peers. Students with special education needs, whether these be learning disabilities, visual or hearing disorders, or mental health disorders, among many other conditions, are key stakeholders in inclusive education. The conclusion raises important questions for future research to examine inclusive education and the parallel implications not only in economically wealthy countries but for all jurisdictions that are trying to initiate and support educational programs for all students.

Article

Schools, teachers, and students are increasingly able to access and apply assistive technology to enhance inclusion within mainstream classrooms. To ensure that a classroom is truly inclusive, the teacher and other professionals involved in supporting children with disability using assistive technology require appropriate knowledge and skills to bring potential to reality. There are many successful examples of assistive technology successfully embedding into the practices of inclusive setting, but there is still some way to go to ensure this is a seamless approach. There are many benefits and difficulties associated with adopting assistive technology to support students with disability, particularly in developing countries. While the challenges may be great, the potential for assistive technology to impact significantly on the educational, social, and recreational outcomes for students with disability in inclusive classrooms is immense.

Article

Cebsile P. Nxumalo

Inclusive school reform has been a subject of concern in many countries, including the Kingdom of Eswatini. One of the forces that has shaped this reform agenda are the demands on transforming schools to embrace inclusive education, thus catering for diverse learners. Effective and sustainable inclusive reform is dependent on comprehensive school reform (CSR) approaches to change, with a focus on embracing and catering for diversity of learners from a broader perspective other than disability and special needs. CSR is one approach to change that is being used with some success in general education and has proven to have the potential of developing more inclusive schools. This is because such reform develops effective, sustainable programs that improve educational outcomes for all learners, with or without special needs and disabilities. CSR provides administrators and teachers with a framework to develop successful, effective, and sustainable inclusive programs. Each country has designed its own ways to ensure inclusive school reform. Inclusive school reform in Eswatini is situated within the context of a comprehensive larger school change effort that promises to improve educational outcomes for all learners while providing the necessary support to allow general classrooms to be changed to accommodate a diverse range of learners. The Southern Africa Development Community school reform model known as Care and Support for Teaching and Learning (CSTL) or “Inqaba,” which means fortress—a safe haven for all learners—has played an important role in the implementation of inclusive school reform in Eswatini. The Inqaba model is a comprehensive response and represents a pragmatic pathway toward inclusive quality education. Creating a caring, supportive, and inclusive teaching and learning environment in every school requires implementing a diverse, comprehensive, and multisectoral response, such as Inqaba, despite some challenges.

Article

Ann Cheryl Armstrong and Derrick Armstrong

The Pacific island countries occupy over 1000 islands in the world’s largest ocean. Their histories and traditions have created bonds between nations that run deep in the cultures of the region. Yet, across this vast ocean, the cultures of the region also differ significantly. The introduction of Western forms of education have often ignored these cultures. Currently, “inclusive education” programs are being promoted in the region, particularly by outside agencies and funding bodies. The disability-inclusion model that underpins many of these initiatives comes from outside the region, and attempts to engage with the cultures of the region in promoting these initiatives have tended to be very limited. Often the initiatives promote an agenda that draws its direction and purpose from the donor countries rather than those of aid-recipient countries. Interaction between cultures over different perspectives and priorities is very healthy but the process of implementation can also easily be detached from the experience and worldviews of the recipients of these programs. Engaging with cultures and the social experience of the citizens of the island countries of the Pacific should be the starting point for the development of educational policy and practice so that the disempowerment of external imposition is avoided. In this chapter we argue that the inclusive education narrative of the Pacific island countries is often subsumed by, and therefore becomes ‘lost’ within, the broader context of the Asia-Pacific which is much larger and includes the world’s most populous countries. We conclude by advocating that research needs to be conducted on issues and cultures in the Pacific region that can contribute to the development of more meaningful and contextual approaches to inclusive education.