Moving towards inclusive education : how inclusive education is understood, experienced and enacted in Nepali higher secondary schools.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Inclusive education is the provision of free quality universal education for all children. This includes children who are considered marginalised and oppressed, ethnic minorities and disabled. In line with the philosophy of global inclusive education, the government of Nepal has endorsed and enacted different policies to support the principles of inclusive education. However, a significant portion of marginalised and disabled students are yet to gain access to education in Nepal. In addition, many children, who attend school do not experience quality education and do not complete primary education. There is no documented information available about inclusive education practices in secondary contexts or of the experiences of disabled children attending secondary education in Nepal. This thesis reports a study that investigated how inclusive education is understood, experienced and enacted by government officers, school administrators, teachers with and without disability, parents, and students with and without disability in two public higher secondary schools in Nepal. The study also explored how inclusive education policies are implemented by school principals, teachers and students in the regular school setting and how teachers perceive and understand curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and disability in particular.
The study utilised a “disability studies in education” framework underpinned by a social constructionist epistemology. Within this thesis, discourses of disabilities, a theoretical model of pedagogical discourse and alternative models of teaching-learning were utilised as a conceptual framework for analysis of findings. Qualitative research data collected and analysed included interviews, observations, and the analyses of policy and school documents. Two school administrators, four government officers, 14 teachers with and without disabilities, 14 parents, and 14 students with and without disabilities were selected as research participants. A total of 48 semi-structured interviews and two focus-group interviews were recorded and analysed. A total of 28 classroom teaching-learning activities were observed with 14 teachers. An analytical model for qualitative data analysis (Taylor, Bogdan & DeVault, 2016) was used to analyse and interpret the data.
Findings indicated that various discourses of disabilities guided Nepali inclusive education policies, classroom practices, and participants' narratives. Nepali inclusive education policies contain contradictory and confusing views, which appeared to be primarily guided by a medical discourse of disability. Although the government of Nepal endorses equity, equality, and social justice for all people, Nepali society still interprets disability as a result of negative Karma which directly leads to discrimination, stigmatisation, categorization and exclusion for disabled students.
Multiple factors were identified as barriers to implementing the inclusive pedagogy in Nepal’s secondary school classrooms. These included a lack of trained teachers, inaccessible infrastructure, limited budgets, and limited teaching resources. The attitudes of teachers and parents towards disability were mostly negative. These appeared to be influenced by socio- cultural beliefs about disability, curriculum constraints, and contradictory policies. As a result, participants constructed a dominant model of teaching: separate curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment models for students with disabilities. However, this study also found that some teachers celebrated disability by applying connective, collaborative and inclusive pedagogy for all students in their day-to-day teaching and learning practices.
On the basis of findings, this study concludes that there is an implementation gap between inclusive policy and inclusive practices. Teachers constructed disability through a medical and religious discourse of disability and viewed disability as an individual problem rather than a social issue. To minimise this implementation gap between educational policies and inclusive practices, this study has suggested implications of this study.