ERG SES C 10, Perspectives in Education
Historically, the policies restricted the rights of children to have access to education if the social status, gender, race or physical disabilities were “out of the norm” (Armstrong, Armstrong and Spandagou, 2013, p.3). Since the 1990s the concept of inclusion has become a worldwide issue. UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education (2009) describes inclusion promotion as “stimulating discussion, encouraging positive attitudes and improving educational and social frameworks to cope with new demands in education structures and governance” (p.7). Over the last decade, the vision of making all schools inclusive has been reaffirmed by the World Education Forum meeting in Dakar, April 2000. The results of which, were developed in Declaration of “Education for All” (UNESCO, 2009).
In contrast to the European systems of education Kazakhstan had followed the practices of correcting the defects of children as it used to be in the Soviet Union (Rouse, 2014). Local population viewed these children to be outliers in society. The perception did not change until the 1990s, when the First World Conference Education for All (EFA) was held (UNESCO, 1999) and Kazakhstan took part in it. At least, children may now gain access to education and be less marginalized from education (Rouse, 2014).
Currently, Kazakhstan is implementing 70% of schools becoming inclusive by 2020 (SPED, 2010). However, the document does not specify the algorithm of inclusion practices, which might cause further hardship and rejection of the system. In addition, people compare western practices to those in Kazakhstan assuming Europe has no similar issues with inclusion. Nobody minds, that western countries have been discussing the issue for 20 years, while our country has just started the process. Even there the issue was discussed and research in European countries was used as an instrument of collecting data about teachers’ attitudes prior to implementing any policies.
Previously, researchers had found out that the possible general factors impacting teachers’ attitudes were gender, age, experience, professional training, administration support and finally the level of impairment (Forlin, 1995; Scruggs and Mastropieri, 1996). More recent studies (Barber and Turner, 2007; Forlin et al.,2008) emphasize that teacher’s training that contributes to a more positive perception of inclusive practices in terms of providing better professional expertise and self-confidence. As a support to their claim, another study of Burke and Sutherland (2004) found that those teachers trained to work in classrooms with students with special needs feel more motivated to teach in this setting. In my perception, the system should start implementing changes through teachers, who have indicated as they “personally support inclusive practice and accept the concept of inclusion can more readily adapt the learning environment to the diverse needs of students and use a variety of approaches and teaching strategies” (Ryan, 2009).
In the school where I am employed, the process of considering changes in policies regarding children with special needs has recently started. Thus, inclusive practices are seen as differentiating educational approaches and adjustment policies for individuals with minor physical impairment or special educational needs. A strong focus in the existing policies and practices is made on child-centered teaching. Practically however, there is some degree of uncertainty felt by the teachers towards practical application of the practices and lack of support by the school.
In this regard, the purpose of my research is not to criticize the policies in Kazakhstan, but to identify any relationship between teachers ‘attitudes and effective introduction of inclusion practices in school. Thus, my research questions are:
- What are the teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion practices?
- To what extent does a relationship exist between teacher \ school factors and teacher attitudes toward inclusion practices?
This study is aimed at categorizing the findings of the survey into factors and viewing teachers’ attitudes in secondary school in Taldykorgan. It is based on descriptive and non-experimental method of empirical pedagogical research, aimed at “explaining the findings, not generalizing them” (Yin, 1994, p.18). The study sample represents the population of interest, but this is limited to teachers employed by Nazarbayev Intellectual School (NIS). Prior to collecting primary data, I had analyzed the policies and practices of working with students with special educational needs in our school, discussed the process of identification with the school psychologist and vice principle of the school. This allowed me to convey the research design and construct the questions for the online survey to gain a deeper understanding of the views held by teachers with respect to inclusion practices within the school. The survey was conducted using google forms and consisted of 20 questions both quantitative and qualitative. Then it was distributed via emails to all teachers in NIS. Participants were assured of the confidentiality of their questionnaire responses and were informed that participation in the study was voluntary. Participants were further assured that they could withdraw from the study at any point during the survey.
At this stage of the research I was able to collect 61 responses from the participants out of 132 employed teachers. Following the conceptual framework worked out by Krista Murphy (2014), the collected and decoded answers allow eliciting several factors affecting the way teachers’ view inclusion. According to the preliminary findings, some of them are section of school they work in, age difference, experience, number of students in class, time pressure, teacher’s skills to differentiate and approach students on the lessons, school factors and parent’s attitude towards the integration of students with special needs into the school system. These factors contribute to the attitudes towards inclusive education such as that conducted by Burke and Sutherland in 2004. Thus, this method helps me to answer two research questions and summarize the ratio between teachers’ background information and their beliefs. Surprisingly, quite a large proportion of people noted uncertainty about the existing special needs practices in school, identification of those students and support that is being provided for teachers. In order to maintain a more effective practical application of those policies in our school I would like to further study a case of the only inclusive school in our town by visiting it and conducting a series of interviews with educators there. This will provide my research with more grounded data to make some recommendations or complete the answers for the research questions. To conclude, the literature review and this small scale research prove that the best way to make teachers feel more positive about the concept is to listen to them and take measures on the needs they have expressed. As they speak on behalf of their students. I also believe that these are administrators who have to ensure that every student’s interest is met.
Armstrong, D., Armstrong, A., &Spandagou, I. (2013). History, social context and key ideas of inclusion and integration in education. Section 1, p 3-14. Barber, N., Turner, M. (2007). Even while they teach, newly-qualified teachers learn. British Journal of SpecialEducation, 34, 1, p. 33-39. Berg, B. L., & Lune, H. (2001). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. Boston: Pearson. ISBN 0-205-31847-9. Burke, K., & Sutherland, C. (2004). Attitudes toward inclusion: Knowledge vs. experience. Education, 125(2), p. 163-172. Retrieved fromhttp://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx? irect=true&db=eft&AN=507953521&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Convention on the Rights of the Child [PDF]. (1990, September 2). Retrieved from http:\\www.ochchr.org. Cresswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: planning, conducting, and evaluatingquantitative and qualitative research (Fourth ed.). S.l.: PEARSON. ISBN-10:0-13-136739-0. Forlin, C. (1995). Educators’ beliefs about inclusive practices in Western Australia. British Journal of Special Education,22, 4, p. 179-185. Forlin, C., Keen, M., Barrett, E. (2008). The concerns of mainstream teachers: Coping with inclusivity in an Australian context. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 55, 3, p. 251–264. MESRK (Ministry of education and Science of Kazakhstan) (2016). State program for education and science development for 2016-2020, Decree of the President of Republic of Kazakhstan , № 205 from March 1, 2016,Astana, retrieved January, 10 from www.akorda.kz/upload/SPED.doc MESRK (Ministry of education and Science of Republic of Kazakhstan). (2013, July 22). КОНЦЕПЦИЯразвитияинклюзивногообразованиявРеспубликеКазахстан (CONCEPT of the development of inclusive education in Republic of Kazakhstan) [PDF]. National Center of Pedagogical correction. Murphy, K. (2014). Teacher Attitudes Toward Inclusion Practices (Master's thesis, Mount Saint Vincent University, 2014) (pp. 4-29). Nova Scotia: Mount Saint Vincent University. Retrieved 12, January from http://dc.msvu.ca:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10587/1372/KristaMurphyMAEdThesis2014.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y. OECD. (2016). PISA 2015: Results in focus. Retrieved October 01, 2017, from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/pisa-2015-results-in-focus.pdf. Rouse, M., Yakavets, N., Kulakhmetova, A. (2014). Towards inclusive education: Swimming against the tide of educational reform. In Education reform and internationalization: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan (pp. 196-213). Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. Ryan, T. G. (2009).Inclusive attitude: A pre-service analysis. Journal of research in Special Educational Needs, 9, 3, p.180-187. Scruggs, T. E., Mastropieri, M. A. (1996). Teacher perceptions of mainstreaming/inclusion: A research synthesis.Exceptional Children, 63, p. 59-74. UNESCO. (2009). UNESCO’s new Policy Guidelines on Inclusion in Education. Retrieved November 17, 2017, from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/unescos_new_policy_guidelines_on_inclusion_in_education/ Yin, R. K. (1994). Case study research: design and methods. London: Sage Publication.
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