04 SES 14 C, Comparative Inclusive Education Research: Global, National and Local Perspectives (Part I)
Symposium Part I, to be continued in 04 SES 15 C
Recent comparative research on the effects of the UN CRPD in the Global South and the Global North elucidating what stands between the human right to inclusive education and its realization. To this end, the paper probes current meanings of inclusive education in two contrasting yet equally challenged state parties: Nigeria, whose school system overtly excludes disabled children, and Germany, where this group primarily learns in special schools. Combining a Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (Keller, 2011) with sociological institutionalism (Schmidt 2008; Scott 2008; Czarniawska & Sevón 2005; Meyer & Rowan, 1977), the book examines the translation of Article 24 UN CRPD’s ideas and norms into educational change based on over one hundred policy documents covering the last two decades as well as thirty expert interviews gathered during extensive research in both countries. It reveals important similarities, despite the vastly different educational conditions that characterize the most populous countries of Africa and Europe. In particular, the finding of the—similar—paradox of disability-segregation being maintained despite rhetorical and legal support for inclusive education counters long-held views on the fundamental difference of reform processes in contrasting world regions. In both countries, policy actors aim to realize the right to inclusive education by segregating students with disabilities into special education settings. In Nigeria, this demand arises from the glaring lack of such a system. In Germany, conversely, from its extraordinary long-term institutionalization. This act of diverting from the principles embodied in Article 24 for contextual reasons—as contrasting as these are—is based on the steadfast and shared belief that school systems which place students into special education have an innate advantage in realizing the right to education for persons with disabilities. This belief is backed by a cycle of ableist assumptions that buttress and reinforce each other in negotiations of inclusive education reform: first, that persons with disabilities have special educational needs that prevent them from participating in regular education and, secondly, that school systems have to provide special education in order to include this group in the first place. Accordingly, inclusion emerges to be an evolutionary and linear process of educational expansion that depends on institutionalized special education, not a right of persons with disabilities to be realized in local schools on equal basis with others. The ‘special educationalization of inclusion’ evidences that the translation of human rights in education is characterized by ableist politics.
Czarniawska, Barbara, and Guje Sevón, eds. 2005. Global Ideas. How Ideas, Objects and Practices Travel in the Global Economy. Frederiksberg: Liber & Copenhagen Business School Press. Keller, Reiner. 2011. ‘The Sociology of Knowledge Approach to Discourse (SKAD)’. Human Studies 34 (1): 43–65. Meyer, John W., and Brian Rowan. 1977. ‘Institutionalized Organizations’. In The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis, edited by Walter W. Powell and Paul J. DiMaggio, 41–62. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Schmidt, Vivien A. 2008. ‘Discursive Institutionalism: The Explanatory Power of Ideas and Discourse’. Annual Review of Political Science 11 (1): 303–26. Scott, W. Richard. 2008. Institutions and Organizations. 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
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