04 SES 15 C, Comparative Inclusive Education Research: Global, National and Local Perspectives (Part II)
Symposium Part II, continued from 04 SES 14 C
The analysis of inclusive education all over the world reveals strong differences in terms of content, time and legal implementation. This fact can be seen in political-legal terms, for example, in the central role that the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has played in recent years for inclusion efforts in schools. In Switzerland, first systematic efforts to promote the inclusion of students with special needs started in the 1970s (Bless, 2007). Initially supported mainly by various voluntary organizations, an overarching (legal, normative and ideational) institutionalization of inclusive education can be identified with the establishment of the Act on Equal Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in 2002 at the latest. This paper discusses the institutionalization of inclusive education in Switzerland’s different regions. Various concepts of Neo-Institutionalism were applied to analyse institutional change in Switzerland’s regionally-varying federal education systems (Scott, 2014). The key indicator, in addition to the school segregation rate of students in the 26 cantons of Switzerland from 1999-2016, are legal documents (such as laws, regulations and decrees) at the national and cantonal levels. It has been found that inclusive education is differently understood and negotiated. In fact, no unified praxis across the cantons follows from national inclusive education reforms. Between the global norm of inclusive education as a human right and the incremental, path-dependent change of complex education systems with their highly differentiated special education programs, there are not only mechanisms of decoupling, but also persistent educational inequalities. Evident in the paradoxical increase of segregation in some cantons, there is no convergence towards inclusion across Switzerland’s regions. This highlights again that inclusive education, especially in a federal state, is by no means only dependent on ratifications of global conventions or even national laws, because inclusive education is tangential to central tensions in the governance of education systems at several levels. This paper will discuss what this means for inclusion research in general and comparative inclusion research in particular.
Bless, G. (2007). Zur Wirksamkeit der Integration. Bern. Scott, W. Richard (2014): Institutions and Organizations. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.
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