Inclusive education for children and young people with disabilities in Uzbekistan: The perspectives and experiences of key players
Nam, G. (2021). Inclusive education for children and young people with disabilities in Uzbekistan: The perspectives and experiences of key players (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14106
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/14106
This thesis explored the educational conditions for children with disabilities in Uzbekistan and the current development stage of inclusive education there. Of particular interest was how various groups perceived and understood the concept of inclusive education, what they saw as the critical issues in introducing inclusive practices, and how their experiences informed its better provision. These groups included parents of children with disabilities, teachers in general and specialised schools, non-governmental disability organisations (NGOs), and the government. The research is of importance as little has been written about inclusive education in Uzbekistan. It offers a platform for academics, policy-makers, and practitioners to further the agenda of equity in education in and beyond this setting through research, policy, and practice. The research used phenomenology as a research methodology to explore the experiences and perspectives of the participants. Within this study, the social model of disability and the human rights treaties were utilised as a theoretical framework. A mixed-methods approach was applied to collect data. Semi-structured interviews were employed for parents, teachers, and government officials and an on-line questionnaire was completed by representatives of non-governmental bodies. In total, 23 interviews were conducted and six questionnaire responses were received. The findings from the study suggest that inclusive education was mainly perceived as providing equal opportunity for children with disabilities to study in neighbourhood general schools, in age-appropriate classes, and with the necessary support to develop their skills and realise their potential. Children’s social development was considered by many participants to be the most important aspect of inclusion. Yet, children with intellectual disabilities were considered as unsuitable to attend general schools. Multiple challenges in the enactment of inclusive education were identified, such as the absence of individualised support in inclusive classrooms that made parents function as teacher aides, a lack of qualified teachers and their poor working conditions, inadequate provision of infrastructure, the absence of enabling legislation on inclusive education, and strong attitudinal barriers. Parental involvement was considered to be one of the most important prerequisites for successful inclusion. Nevertheless, teachers claimed that there was little effective collaboration between schools and parents due to a lack of parental responsibility for the lives and education of their children. The social partnership in disability-inclusive development between the government and NGOs appeared not to have been established yet, although NGOs have enough expertise and willingness to contribute to inclusion. Four major implications emerged from the findings of the study. First, they suggest that inclusive education addresses the diverse needs of all students, not only those who have disabilities. Within a disability context, as stated by the human rights instruments, inclusive schools should accommodate students regardless of their conditions. They do not exclude students with intellectual disabilities. Second, the study indicates that teachers of mainstream schools, who participated in the study, feel more professionally prepared to practice inclusion when provided with in-service training and adequate working conditions, such as small size classes and a higher salary. Third, the study suggests that the capacity of parents of children with disabilities to cope with disability-related issues can be increased if they are provided with support services and a better financial provision to cover a disability cost. Finally, NGOs support children with disabilities and their families and promote inclusion more effectively when involved in decision-making processes and given more trust and freedom with organising and conducting their activities. On this basis, recommendations for academics, researchers, and policy-makers were developed. Recommendations for academics and researchers primarily include supporting disability research and communicating research findings with policy-makers. Recommendations for policy-makers, in turn, outline the ways of how they could support children with disabilities, their parents, teachers, and non-governmental agencies. Furthermore, the study provides recommendations for further research. It would be useful to explore the inclusion of children with intellectual disabilities in a general school system in Uzbekistan, the transition of students with disabilities from high school or college to the workforce, and the impact of cultural beliefs about disability on social and educational inclusion.
The University of Waikato
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