Inclusive education in Fiji: pre-service and in-service primary education teachers’ perspectives and preparedness for inclusive education
Singh, D. S. (2018). Inclusive education in Fiji: pre-service and in-service primary education teachers’ perspectives and preparedness for inclusive education (Thesis, Master of Disability and Inclusion Studies (MDInS)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11972
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11972
Inclusive education is a recent idea of the Ministry of Education Fiji, through which they hope to provide disabled children the opportunity to receive a quality education in mainstream schools. However, are pre-service and in-service primary education teachers in Fiji sufficiently trained to take up the role of an inclusive education teacher? The international literature claims that mainstream teachers, the key people to implement inclusive education, are least prepared and are unwilling to meet the educational needs of disabled children. Is this also true for Fijian teachers? The aim of this research study was to gather Fijian pre-service and in-service primary education teachers’ perspectives and preparedness for inclusive education that has begun in some mainstream primary schools in Fiji and will gradually expand to other mainstream primary schools in the country. An interpretive paradigm guided the research methodology, since the purpose was to gather participants’ perspectives and consensus of how prepared they are for inclusive education. A qualitative research approach which utilised a face-to-face semi-structured interview method was used to collect data. Twelve individuals were interviewed comprising of eight final year (Year 3) pre-service primary education teachers from two teacher training institutions, together with one inclusive education and three special education in-service teachers. Data gathered from participants reveals that teachers have a positive attitude towards inclusive education in Fiji and are enthusiastic about taking up the role of inclusive education teacher. This positive attitude was native to the understanding that disabled children have rights to a high quality education, and secondly, it was because of the experiences they had with this group of children and adults before, during and, for some, after their initial teacher training. However, all participants also perceive they have insufficient training and limited skills to teach disabled children. In keeping with international findings, this research initiative shows that teachers’ positive attitudes weaken when they face an adverse environment such as large class size and lack of teacher support for daily teaching tasks. These findings indicate that all trainee teachers must receive the opportunity to learn about, observe and practice teaching this group of children during their initial teacher training, so that they graduate having adequate skills to teach disabled children. Teachers must also work towards improving their professional skills after initial training, as the data reveals there is high chance that teachers’ attitudes will deteriorate further when they address the challenges of time and classroom management.
The University of Waikato
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