School cultural features and practices that influence inclusive education in Papua New Guinea: A consideration of schools in Southern Highlands Province.
Rombo, J. L. (2007). School cultural features and practices that influence inclusive education in Papua New Guinea: A consideration of schools in Southern Highlands Province. (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2387
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2387
Inclusive education is a recent phenomenon in the education system in Papua New Guinea. It is about giving equal educational opportunities to all children, whether with disabilities or not in the regular school or classroom. Schools are considered as social institutions that should endeavour to enhance all children's lives through appropriate teaching and learning practices. However, the school culture, which is generally defined as 'how things are done here' is vital for the promotion of inclusive practices. The main aim of this study was to identify the school cultural features and practices that influenced or did not influence inclusive education, and the impact on inclusion. Teachers and school administrators appeared to play a vital role in enhancing inclusive practices through their practices. The study was based on an interpretive/naturalistic research paradigm, the qualitative research approach and the case study methodology. Four schools were studied and categorised as rural and urban settings. The main purpose of categorisation was to identify some similarities and differences in terms of how inclusion was promoted in these schools. Teachers and school administrators were chosen as the main participants. The primary source of data collection was semi-structured interviews. Interview questions were developed for both teachers and school administrators respectively. A non-participant observation method was used as a support instrument to collect more data from selected research participants based on the preliminary interview data. The results suggested the existence of four broad school cultural features and practices. These included staff understanding of special and inclusive education concepts, leadership and organisation, school cultural features/practices and implications for staff, and policies. Teachers and school administrators appeared to have limited knowledge and understanding about what constitutes special and inclusive education practices. However, the school leadership, collaboration and inspection practices minimally influenced inclusive practices. At the same time other school cultural features such as the outcomes-based education curriculum and ecological assessment seemed to have the potential to influence the outcomes of the process of inclusion. The results suggest the value of Callan Services as a school support service agency to influence inclusive education in the Southern Highlands Province. It was noted that children with disabilities were already part of the education system. Though the teachers and school administrators claimed this to be inclusive education, according to the literature this was a manifestation of functional mainstreaming practices. The teachers and school administrators and the Department of Education at the provincial and national levels appeared to take less responsibility in disseminating information pertaining to inclusive practices. The teachers and school administrators received limited support and information from the national and provincial Departments of Education. Therefore, the special education policies developed at the national level had not trickled down to the school level. This situation created a gap between inclusive education policy and practice. One of the major channels of communication and connection was through the inspectors and their inspection practices, but this appeared to have been under-utilised.
The University of Waikato
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