Entering the SDG era: What do Fijians prioritise as indicators of disability-inclusive education?

SPRUNT, Beth
DEPPELER, Joanne
RAVULO, Kitione
TINAIVUNIVALU, Savaira
SHARMA, Umesh
Publication Date 
2017
23 pp

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 is to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ and the targets and indicators for SDG 4 emphasise the importance of measuring outcomes for children with disabilities (United Nations, 2015b). This paper reports on findings from qualitative research investigating Fijian stakeholders’ priorities for measuring success of efforts within a contextually and culturally meaningful process of disabilityinclusive education; that is, achievement of SDG 4 for children with disabilities. The priorities are presented in light of the specific challenges in Fiji to fulfilling this goal. The research presented in this paper is one part of a much larger mixed method study funded by the Australian aid program that aimed to develop and test indicators for the education of children with disabilities in the Pacific (Sharma et al., 2016). Fijian researchers with lived experience of disability undertook key informant interviews and focus group discussions with 28 participants. The findings include the need for or role of: an implementation plan and resourcing to ensure the national inclusive education policy is activated; improved awareness and attitudes; competent, confident and compassionate teachers; disability-specific services and assistive technology; accessible buildings and transport; and the important role of special schools. Inclusive education reform requires that Fiji incorporates and builds on existing strengths in special and inclusive education to ensure that systems and people are prepared and resourced for inclusion. The paper concludes that targets within SDG 4 are compatible with priorities within Fiji, however additional indicators are required to measure locally-prioritized changes related to barriers which need to be addressed if Fiji is to make progress towards the higher-order targets of SDG 4.

 

Disability & the Global South (DGS), 2017, Vol. 4 No. 1

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