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‘Teachers Did Not Let Me Do It.’: Disabled Children’s Experiences of Marginalisation in Regular Primary Schools in China

WANG, Yuchen

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The large-scale mainstreaming of disabled children in education in China was initiated with the launching of a national policy called ‘Learning in Regular Classrooms’ in the late 1980s. More than thirty years on, and little is known about disabled children’s daily experiences in regular schools due to a lack of research that foregrounds their voices. This paper reports the main findings from an ethnographic study conducted in 4 state- funded primary schools in Shanghai involving 11 children labelled as having ‘intellectual disabilities’, 10 class teachers and 3 resource teachers. Data were collected through participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and child-friendly participatory activities, and thematically analysed to identify patterns in practices and beliefs that underpin the processes of inclusion and exclusion. The research found that the child participants were facing marginalisation in many aspects of school life with rather limited participation in decision-making. The exclusionary processes were reinforced by a prevailing special educational thinking and practice, a charitable approach to the disadvantaged in a Confucian society, and an extremely competitive and performative schooling culture. The findings address the need to hear disabled children’s voices to initiate a paradigm shift in understanding and practice to counterbalance deep-rooted barriers. The paper concludes with suggestions for future research.

Background: Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of young people including those with disabilities is a major public health concern globally. However, available evidence on their use of sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) is inconsistent.Object


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Background:Sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of young people including those with disabilities is a major public health concern globally. However, available evidence on their use of sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) is inconsistent.

Objective:This study investigated utilisation of SRHS amongst the in-school young people with disabilities (YPWDs) in Ghana using the healthcare utilisation model.

Methods: Guided by the cross-sectional study design, a questionnaire was used to obtain data from 2114 blind and deaf pupils or students in the age group 10-24 years, sampled from 15 purposively selected special schools for the deaf and the blind in Ghana.

Results: About seven out of every 10 respondents had ever utilised SRHS. The proportion was higher amongst the males (67.8%) compared with the females (62.8%). Young persons with disabilities in the coastal (OR = 0.03, 95% CI = 0.01–0.22) and middle (OR = 0.06, 95% CI = 0.01–0.44) zones were less likely to have ever utilised SRHS compared with those in the northern ecological zone. The blind pupils or students were more likely to have ever utilised SRHS than the deaf (OR = 1.45, 95% CI = 1.26–3.11).

Conclusions: Generally, SRHS utilisation amongst the in-school YPWDs in Ghana is high but significantly associated with some predisposing, need and enabling or disabling factors. This underscores the need for policymakers to consider in-school YPWDs as a heterogeneous group in the design and implementation of SRHS programmes. The Ghana Education Service in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service should adopt appropriate pragmatic measures and targeted interventions in the special schools to address the SRH needs of the pupils or students.

‘It’s been taken away’: an experience of a disappearing dyslexia diagnosis

CAMERON, Harriet

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This research explores the experiences of Beth, a university student in the UK, as she comes to be labelled as ‘dyslexic’, and as she has her diagnosis taken away. Through use of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and discourse analysis, the research seeks to understand how Beth made sense of these experiences, and to explore the discursive ‘life’ of dyslexia within this sense-making. The discussion in this paper proceeds chronologically through Beth’s story, from ‘struggle’, to ‘legitimation’ to ‘derogation’, and concludes with a call to recognise the role of diagnosis in the field of special educational needs (SEN) from a social constructionist and relational perspective.

When differences are made into likenesses: the normative documentation and assessment culture of the preschool


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This article is based on studies carried out within the Young children’s learning research education programme. This undertaking involved five graduate students, all recruited from the Swedish preschool system. The licentiate thesis makes up the final product of their education programme, and the focus of each candidate’s licentiate thesis was preschool-level documentation. Using the results of all five theses, a re-analysis was conducted with the concept of normality as the common starting point. The purpose was to investigate whether documentation and assessment can change the view of normality in preschools, and furthermore, what consequences there may be for preschool activity. ‘The narrow preschool and the wide preschool’ is the model used to support the analysis, which is a model used in previous studies to review and discuss educational choices and conditions in the school system. Results of the present investigation show that the documents and assessments performed in preschool have a strong focus on the individual child and a traditional, school-oriented learning is highly valued. The documentation and assessment practices that take place now in our preschools, therefore, most likely influence the preschool view of normality and restrict the acceptance of differences.

The community-based actions that removed barriers to inclusive education in Kenya

ELDER, Brent C
OSWAGO, Benson

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This article represents a culmination of inclusive education projects implemented in western Kenya since 2010. In this article, we discuss the 2018 iteration of this on-going community-based participatory research (CBPR)-informed project in which we utilised multiple theoretical frameworks to inform our methods in this project, including decolonising methodologies and Critical Disability Studies (CDS). We conducted qualitative interviews as a way to learn about the ways in which inclusion committees facilitated the partial removal of barriers to the development of an inclusive education system in the region over the last decade. In this article, we provide an overview of the barriers to inclusive education in the global South and sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on western Kenya. We present findings that highlight the various inclusion committee actions that contributed to the partial removal of barriers which included: sensitising communities about inclusive education; promoting access to inclusive education; and implementing inclusive strategies like income generating activities (IGAs) and co-teaching. We conclude the article by suggesting potential ways forward for inclusive education in Kenya including: a multi-sector approach for family supports; providing government incentives to inclusive schools; and promoting IGAs and co-teaching practices in teacher education programs and in schools.

Greek Secondary Education Teachers’ Views on Inclusive Education of People with Intellectual Disabilities

GIAVRIMIS, Panagiotis

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Purpose: This paper aimed to investigate Greek secondary education teachers’ views on people with intellectual disabilities, their inclusion in the typical educational system, and the dimensions of social and educational exclusion that may be associated with it.


Method: The qualitative research design involved semi-structured interviews with 18 Greek secondary school teachers.


Results: It was revealed that people with intellectual disabilities face educational exclusion for two reasons. The first is because the structure of the education system itself cannot meet their increased needs, and the second is due to the fact that a percentage of secondary education teachers feel negative about their inclusion in the typical education system.


Conclusion and Implications: The implemented policy for the co-education of people with intellectual disabilities in Greece is not effective due to endogenous difficulties. It is necessary to orient the educational policy towards an education for all without "filters" of social exclusions.

Academic Outcomes and Coping Mechanisms of Children using Cochlear Implants in Mainstream Schools in Kerala, India


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Purpose: The aim of the present study was to understand the academic outcomes of children using cochlear implants in mainstream schools in Kerala, India and to explore the compensatory strategies used by them to overcome the difficultiesfaced in classrooms.


Method: Thirty-one children using cochlear implants who were attending first and second grades in mainstream schools, and their parents and teachers participated in the study. Teachers were asked to rate a questionnaire, “Teachers’ Perceptions of Academic Outcomes”, which consisted of five sections – oral comprehension, oral expression, reading, writing and mathematics. The performance of the children using cochlear implants was compared with the performance of typically hearing children in the class. The grades obtained in the previous examination were also used for the comparison. Information was collected regarding difficulties faced by the children inside the classroom and their strategies to overcome the challenges.


Results: The class teachers rated the performance of 71 % of these children as ‘above average’. Though the academic outcomes were found to be good on the questionnaire and classroom tests, most of the children with cochlear implantsfaced various difficulties and had used different compensatory strategies to give their optimum performance in the classroom.


Conclusion: The study emphasizes the importance of having mid- and long-term follow-ups with children using cochlear implants, even after mainstreaming. It is necessary to orient and train teachers about the needs of these children and to implement support strategies in mainstream schools.

Kindergarten Redshirting: Implications for Children with Disabilities

SANDS, Michelle M

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The purpose of this paper is to explore issues and concerns related to academic redshirting in kindergarten and to discuss implications of this practice for children with disabilities. Although parents cite a variety of reasons for redshirting their child, only limited evidence of academic or social benefit can be found. A search was conducted to identify studies relevant to academic redshirting and inclusive of children with disabilities published within the past 20 years, and 17 articles were identified related to the topic. From these articles, three central topics emerged: (a) prevalence, predictors, or parent motivations for kindergarten redshirting, (b) the impact of redshirting on academic achievement and post-secondary outcomes, and (c) the impact of this practice on a child’s behavior. While assumptions can be made based on the research conducted using a general education population, the impact of kindergarten redshirting on the success of children with disabilities is unclear due to the limited amount of research that currently exists. Implications for children with disabilities are discussed.

Using selected behaviour modification practices to enhance reinforcement of reading abilities among dyslexic learners in Kenya

OOKO, Pamela A
ALOKA , Peter J O

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Background: Dyslexic learners have difficulties in accurate and fluent word recognition and poor spelling and decoding abilities.


Objective: The present study investigated the use of selected behaviour modification practices to enhance reinforcement of reading abilities amongst dyslexic learners in primary schools in Kenya.


Methods: The Solomon four research design was adopted. A sample size of 229 dyslexic learners in four selected schools was obtained using purposive sampling technique. The tools used were the Bangor Dyslexia Test and a short reading comprehension test. Internal validity of the constructs was tested using the Kaiser–Meyer–Oklin measure of sampling adequacy (KMO Index) and the Bartlett’s test of sphericity. The reliability of the questionnaires was ascertained using Cronbach’s alpha and internal consistencies of 0.673–0.807 were reported.


Results: The findings reported a statistical significant difference between pre-test and post-test scores of the experiment group 1, t (48) = –15.059, p < 0.01, implying that a significant effect was found in the use of behaviour modification strategies in improving learner English language reading skills. The regression model explained 54.7% (R2 = 0.547) of the variability in the level of English language reading abilities amongst primary school learners with dyslexia.


Conclusion: The study concludes that coaching behaviour modification practice had the highest influence on English language reading abilities as compared to prompting, shaping and modelling practices. The study recommended training of teachers on the use of behaviour modification practices to improve dyslexic learners’ reading ability.


Collaboration between Organizations of Persons with Disabilities and Organizations working for Education For All for the promotion of Inclusive Education in West Africa

Gilles Ceralli
Francesca Piatta
Sandra Boisseau

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The Inclusive Education in the Sahel Project 2017-2021 implemented by HI and co-financed by NORAD and AFD (Burkina Faso) has created a “collaborative dynamic for organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and civil society movements working in education at the regional level (West Africa) and national level (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) for the promotion of inclusive education”, and this study aims to capitalise on this dynamic. The ultimate goal of the project was to increase the number of children attending school in these three countries, especially children with disabilities and/or marginalised children. To achieve this objective, the project has developed an advocacy component aimed at sensitising communities about inclusive education on the one hand, and bringing about changes in education policies and sectoral plans to make them more inclusive, on the other hand.

Teaching for inclusion – a review of research on the cooperation between regular teachers and special educators in the work with students in need of special support


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This article presents a review of qualitative research on interprofessional cooperation between regular teachers and special educators published from 2005 to 2019. The aim of the review was to gain knowledge about how different forms of cooperation take shape and about factors at multiple levels that facilitate or constrain cooperation as a means of achieving inclusion. In total, 25 studies were selected. The results are discussed in relation to Thomas Skrtic’s theory of bureaucracies within the school organisation in order to compare and analyse different forms of interprofessional cooperation and schools’ organisations of special educational work. Cooperative teaching, special educational consultations and mixed forms of cooperation were found to entail different benefits and challenges related to communication and the cooperating actors’ roles. Facilitating factors included personal chemistry, an equal distribution of power and responsibilities and support from the school management through provision of professional development and adequate planning time. In several studies, a flexible cooperation was argued to be hindered by curricular constraints and standardised testing. Education policy is therefore emphasised in this review as important for understanding the conditions under which school staff are responsible for inclusion.

Unheard children. Championing deaf children’s rights to family, community, education and independence in developing countries

November 2020

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This report highlights the specific barriers facing deaf children and young people and demonstrates a number of smallscale approaches and initiatives that have succeeded in breaking down some of these barriers.

Topics are:

  • Language and communication. Early diagnosis and support (example from Bangladesh). Effective and affordable hearing technology. Communication choices. What is sign language? Tanzanian Sign Language – the need for more interpreters
  • Families. Early diagnosis and support. Upskilling parents and primary caregivers. Power to the parents (example from Uganda). Catalyst for change (example from India). 
  • Communities. Deaf role models (example from Bangladesh). Challenging the public and professionals. Educating the police force (example from India). Sharing knowledge across organisations
  • Education. Intensive communication. Extra help in the classroom (example from Kenya). Making secondary education accessible. Developing sign language skills. Inclusive further and higher education
  • Independence. Listening to deaf young people. Involving deaf young people in research. Support to make informed choices. Challenging perceptions in the workplace (example from Kenya)



Teachers’ Attitudes towards Inclusion of Blind or Partially-Sighted Students in Secondary Schools in Nigeria

Ajuwon, Paul M
Chitiyo, George
Onuigbo, Liziana N
Ahon, Adaka T
Olayi, James E

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Purpose: This study investigated the attitudes of secondary school teachers towards students with blindness or partial sight in selected states in Nigeria.


Method: The authors utilised the modified version of a previous instrument to collect data from 306 secondary school teachers in Nigeria. Six basic questions were established to address: respondents’ attitudes towards inclusion; training acquired related to teaching; knowledge pertaining to policy and legislation; confidence levels to teach students with disabilities.; impact of geographical location; and differences in attitudes by the variables of subject(s) taught, school level taught, and years of teaching experience.


Results: Attitudes of participants were mixed but were generally positive. The level of training was low, with teachers showing limited knowledge of policy and legislation. A little over a quarter (27%) of them lacked confidence in teaching. There were differences in attitudes related to the geographical location of respondents. Those who taught at the senior secondary school level tended to have higher attitude scores on average than their counterparts at the junior secondary school level.


Conclusion and Limitations: This study used self-report measures, although observations and interviews could be additional ways to evaluate the attitudes of participants throughout the country. Moreover, in-service programmes may need to be implemented to increase teachers’ knowledge base and expand their experiences in line with established policies and legislation.

Psychosocial Functioning in Children with Dyslexia: Perspectives from Parents, Counsellors and Teachers

BAJAJ, Deepali
BHATIA, Sangeeta

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Purpose: The study aimed to understand the issues and challenges encountered by various stakeholders (teachers, parents and counsellors) working with children with dyslexia in the inclusive school context.


Method: Using purposive and snowball sampling, 20 teachers, 20 counsellors and 20 parents (mothers) of children with specific learning disability (dyslexia) were selected from 8 inclusive schools in Delhi. A qualitative approach was adopted, with a semi-structured interview schedule to elicit responses. Qualitative thematic analysis was used as a framework for data analysis.


Results: Parents experienced negative feelings due to lack of awareness and acceptance of dyslexia. Counsellers felt parental ignorance led to delay in assessment and remediation. Parents and counsellors perceived lack of support from schools and lack of empathy among teachers. Teachers confessed they lacked training to deal with dyslexic learners, were unaware of policies and concessions for them, and were currently overburdened with their workload.


Conclusion: There is a need to hold psycho-educational workshops for parents in order to increase their awareness, and conduct training workshops (pre-service and in-service) for teachers to increase awareness and build empathy. Schools should provide in-house assistive services such as assessment and remediation, and redefine the goals of education to focus on the holistic skills of children.

The impact of special education resources and the general and the special education teacher’s competence on pupil mathematical achievement gain in inclusive classrooms

OPITZ, Elisabeth Moser
JANDL, Sarah
FELDER, Franziska
DESSEMONTET, Rachel Sermier

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Research in inclusive settings is complicated by the nested relationships between the general education teacher (GET), the special education teacher (SET) and pupils. In this study, the impact of SET resource and selected variables of teacher competence (professional mathematical knowledge SET, attitude towards inclusion GET, classroom management GET) on the mathematical achievement gain of typically developing pupils (TYP) and pupils with intellectual disability (ID) was examined. Mathematical achievement was tested at the beginning of the school year (t1) and the end (t2) in 34 inclusive classrooms (sample ID: n = 42; sample TYP n = 525). IQ and gender – and the average mathematical achievement at class level in the sample TYP – were included as control variables. For pupils with ID, hierarchical regression modelling revealed that the mathematical knowledge at t1 explained most of the variance in mathematical achievement gain. For the group TYP, the results of a multi-level analysis showed that mathematical knowledge at t1, IQ and the average mathematical achievement at class level all had a positive effect on mathematical achievement gain. The more hours a SET was present in the classroom, the more the mathematical achievement of the group TYP increased. The other teacher competence variables had no apparent impact.

Special education reforms in Ireland: changing systems, changing schools

MCCOY, Selina
MIHUT, Georgiana

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Ireland has a distinct and complex history regarding the education of persons with special educational needs (SEN) and in its approach to inclusion. Special and general education largely developed in parallel and separately. As recently as the 1990s, legal actions by parents seeking educational rights for children with severe disabilities prompted appropriate provision for these students and a shift towards inclusive schools. The Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs (EPSEN) Act set out important changes – although not all implemented – followed by a series of changes in resource allocation, culminating in the removal of the requirement for students to be diagnosed in order to access supports. International evidence suggests that resource allocation based on learners’ profile and SEN diagnosis have been linked to the overidentification of SEN students. Ability to pay for private assessments has also been shown to exacerbate inequality in Ireland and beyond. We examine how Ireland's policy changes are impacting on schools and students, drawing on emerging evidence. We consider concerns over the adequacy of teacher professional development, the intended and potentially unintended consequences from a process of ‘domestication’ at the school level and ultimately whether the changes are accompanied by sufficient and appropriate accountability measures.

Differentiation and individualisation in inclusive education: a systematic review and narrative synthesis

LINDNER, Katharina-Theresa
SCHWAB, Susanne

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This study integrates research about differentiation and individualisation in inclusive education since the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006 (United Nations, 2006). The concept of inclusive education for all learners increases the requirement for teachers to create educational spaces that encourage stimulating teaching and learning processes. Accordingly, a methodological shift from the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ model to individualised teaching and learning offers a starting point for educational equity. The aim of this paper is to investigate the progress of differentiated and individualised teaching practices in inclusive classroom settings considering collaboration and teamwork, instructional practices, organisational practices and social/emotional/behavioural practices (see Finkelstein, Sharma, & Furlonger, 2019. “The Inclusive Practices of Classroom Teachers: A Scoping Review and Thematic Analysis.” International Journal of Inclusive Education, 1–28). Results of a criteria-based review considering papers from 2008 to December 2018 encompass 17 articles that were included in the narrative synthesis. Results indicated that the following aspects are characteristic of inclusive education: collaboration and co-teaching, grouping, modification (of assessment, content, extent, instruction, learning environment, material, process, product and time frame), individual motivation and feedback, and personnel support of students. Implications of the findings and gaps in the research have been outlined.

Inclusion, access, and accessibility of educational resources in higher education institutions: exploring the Ethiopian context

BEYENE, Wondwossen Mulualem
MEKONNEN, Abraham Tulu
GIANNOUMIS, George Anthony

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The right of persons with disabilities for equal access to education and educational resources is enshrined by international and country-specific anti-discrimination laws. Taking the Ethiopian context as an example, this paper sought to identify barriers of access to educational resources and explored ways for removing them. Seventeen students with visual impairments studying at Hawassa University were selected for semi-structured interviews. Moreover, five individuals working at the disability centre and the university library were interviewed. The results of the interviews were analysed thematically using the International Classification of Functioning, Disabilities and Health (ICF) as a framework. Access and accessibility problems that emanate from the learners’ diverse background, lack of educational resources in alternative formats, lack of institutional tools (policy, procedure, guidelines, etc.) to bridge the gap between law and practice, and the digital divide were among the problems identified and discussed. At the end, the paper showed how libraries, revitalised as learning and information commons, could help to ensure the accessibility of educational resources and help learners with disabilities to acquire skills that may help them in their studies and their future undertakings.

Segregated education as a challenge to inclusive processes: a total population study of Swedish teachers’ views on education for pupils with intellectual disability

HANSSON, Susanne

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Many pupils with disabilities receive schooling in segregated contexts, such as special classes or special schools. Furthermore, the percentage of pupils educated in segregated settings has increased in many European countries. Studies suggest that there is high commitment to the general ideology of inclusive education among teachers in ‘regular’ education in many countries. This survey study investigates the views of teachers in segregated types of school about education. A questionnaire was sent out, in 2016, to all Swedish teachers (N = 2871, response rate 57.7%) working full time in special classes for pupils with intellectual disability (ID). On a general level results show that there is a strong commitment to preserving a segregated school setting for pupils with ID, a limited desire to cooperate with colleagues from ‘regular schools’ and a view that schooling and teaching are not quite compatible with the idea of inclusive education. The results highlight the importance of investigating processes of resistance within segregated schools to the development of inclusive schools and education systems. We argue that, while research and debate about inclusive education are important, both are insufficient without analyses of existing types of segregated schooling.

A preschool for all children? – Swedish preschool teachers’ perspective on inclusion

HAU, Hanna Ginner
ÅKESSON, Eva Björck

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Building on the Salamanca Statement from 1994, the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals 2030 embraces inclusion for children in early childhood education. The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education in 2015–2017 completed a project on inclusive early childhood education, focusing on structures, processes, and outcomes that ensure a systemic approach to high-quality Inclusive Early Childhood Education (IECE). An ecosystem model of IECE was developed with a self-reflection tool for improving inclusion. This study’s aim was to investigate practitioners’ perspective on the inclusive processes and supportive structures defined in the ecosystem model, to contribute to a deeper understanding of how inclusive practice might be enabled and how barriers for inclusion can be removed. The self-reflection tool was administered in a heterogeneous municipality in Sweden, where inclusive settings are standard. Documentation from approximately 70 teachers on 27 teams was received. The documentation was analysed with qualitative content analysis based on the ecosystem model. The results showed a strong emphasis on group-related processes, whereas data on individual-related processes were scarce. This one-sided focus on the group level might endanger the inclusive processes and outcomes concerning the individual child.