04 SES 11 A, Exploring Intersectional Oppressions in Education: Challenges for Europe and Latin America regarding children with disabilities
In 2001, an inclusive educational policy was implemented in mainstream schools of Cyprus. The Ministry of Education and Culture(MOEC) developed a multi-layered placement within the mainstream schools, to support the ‘needs’ of students with mild and profound learning difficulties to be included in the mainstream classrooms and achieve the aims of the national curriculum (Official Newspaper of Cypriot Democracy, 2001).The students with mild learning difficulties were required to be withdrawn from their mainstream classroom three to five times per week in order to receive support in the resource room. The students are helped in the core classes such as Modern Greek, History, Mathematics, Physics, in which they are examined (MOEC, 2013). As a secondary teacher of Greek language and literature at schools in Cyprus, I have always wondered why the ‘needs’ of the children ‘with learning difficulties’ are required to be supported ‘outside’ the mainstream classrooms, if the practices needed for their support are no more than good general practices (Winzer and Mazurek, 2000). Therefore, an ethnographic case study was conducted at three public mainstream schools of Cyprus. This study aimed to explore the participants’ understanding regarding inclusive education and the current mainstream classroom teaching adaptations. Eleven teachers of Modern Greek and three coordinators were questioned and individually interviewed. Twenty-nine students with mild learning difficulties aged from twelve to fifteen years old, were also interviewed. The participants were also observed over a series of lessons in the mainstream classroom and the resource room. Findings show that the students felt or were afraid, of being stigmatized due to their withdrawal support in the resource room and they experienced a direct or indirect form of discrimination. Individuals are stigmatized because they possess or are believed to possess some characteristics devaluing them within a particular social context (Crocker et al., 1998). Stereotypes represent the traits that are considered as the characteristics of particular social groups (Nelson, 2009). However, the stereotypes when focused only on undesirable characteristics, resulted in the labelled people being seen negatively (Link and Phelan, 2001). Particularly, the resource room was among the spaces which were originally and especially designed for the ‘dis-abled’ students (D’Alessio, 2014) and continued to run for the students with learning difficulties (Persson, 2000; Vlachou, 2006). Consequently, the partial withdrawal support of these students in the resource room reinforced for them, their classmates and their teachers, the belief of having ‘lower academic abilities’ and efficacy.
Crocker,J.,Major,B. and Steele,C.,(1998), “Social stigma”, cited in Gilbert,D.T. and Fiske,S.T.,(1998),The Handbook of Social Psychology,2: 504-553. -D’Alessio, S., (2014) ‘Integrazione scolastica and the development of inclusion in Italy: does space matter?’ in Hemingway. and Armstrong, F., (eds) Space, Place and Inclusive Learning, London: Routledge, 41-56. -Link, B.G. and Phelan, J.C.,(2001) Conceptualizing stigma, Annual Review of Sociology 27:363-385. -MOEC (2013) Eidiki ekpaidevsi: Axiologisi paidion (in my translation from Greek ‘Special needs education: Students’ assessment) -Official Newspaper of Cypriot Democracy (2001)o peri agogis kai ekpaideusis paidion Me eidikes anagkes nomos (in my translation: The legislation of support and education of children with special needs) online -Persson, B.,(2000) ‘Special education in today’s Sweden-a struggle between the Swedish model and the market’ cited in Armstrong, F., Armstrong, D. and Barton, L., (2000) Inclusive Education: Policy, Contexts and Comparative Perspectives, London: David Fulton Publisher,117-132. - Vlachou, A. (2006) ‘Role of special/support teachers in Greek primary schools : a counterproductive effect of ‘inclusion’ practices’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10:1, 39-58. -Winzer, Margret A. and Mazurek, Kas (2000), Special Education in the 21st century: Issues of Inclusion and Reform, Washington: Gallaudet University Press.
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