Inclusive education aspirations: exploration of policy and practice in Bangladesh secondary schools
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
In accordance with global policies and pressures Bangladesh has incorporated inclusion as a change agenda in its education system and has consequently legislated a number of policies supporting inclusive education for children with disabilities in mainstream education. Secondary schools in Bangladesh are gradually initiating inclusive teaching and learning approaches to respond to the significant shifts in policy. This research examines the relationships between global pressures, national policies for the inclusion of children with disabilities and the aspirations, practices and needs in secondary schools in Bangladesh. In particular, it examines political rhetoric concerning valuing diversity within Bangladesh and juxtaposes this rhetoric with case studies of the practice of five selected schools. There is very little comprehensive research in this field in Bangladesh, so this project encompasses an exploration and review of policy and of policy context as well as an exploration of the grounded realities of education practices. It addresses the main research question: How do Bangladesh’s current policies for students with disabilities in secondary schools align with practice, resources and perceived needs?
The study utilised a qualitative case study methodology. The overarching case is that of inclusive education in Bangladesh. Within this, there are a number of embedded cases examining the practices of particular schools and the perspectives of policymakers. The study was conducted in two stages. The first stage was designed to get information on policy from documents and interviews with professionals including academics, teacher educators, policy administrators, policymakers, and education policy experts. The purpose of this phase was to investigate the policy options for educating children with disabilities in mainstream/inclusive setting and to understand the influences of global policies on Bangladesh policies and legislation. The second phase involved case studies of five selected secondary schools to investigate how such policies are translated into practices.
The study identified a gap between policies and practices that arose from the dominant influence of international drivers as well as the lack of strategic implementation processes. The findings from the study lead to the conclusion that schools were claiming to be implementing inclusive education despite their teachers having not received training in inclusive educational practices or having sufficient resources. As a consequence staff were often unaware of how to meet the needs of students with disabilities and of how to integrate them into class. It further identified the range of challenges that still exist.
The findings are significant for the Bangladesh context as the country strives to achieve the goal of inclusive education, and as a contribution to the wider debates of inclusion and inclusive education practices. Their implications are discussed in relation to further policy formation and to the development of strategies and resources for improving teaching learning practices in inclusive classrooms. The thesis concludes that the road to inclusion for Bangladesh secondary schools may well have begun but it requires further reformation of not only schools but also national strategies of policy development.