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Teacher Educators' and Pre-service Teachers' Attitudes, Knowledge and Understanding on Special Education and Inclusive Education in the Solomon Islands.

Since the merging of special education and regular mainstream education into a unified system now known as inclusive education, this concept has kept many educators divided. However, it appears that inclusive education has now become the preferred option where children with special needs are given equal opportunity to learn with their peers in inclusive classrooms and an environment where they can freely interact with one another. While the seed of inclusive education had been sown and effectively implemented in most developed countries, it has yet to sprout in the Solomon Islands. It has been suggested that the success of inclusive education depends very much on teachers and their attitudes. Because of that, teachers need adequate training in inclusive education so that they can effectively implement inclusion in their classroom, thus highlighting pre-service training of teachers as an essential factor which may enhance inclusive education in the Solomon Islands. This study was based on an interpretive research paradigm. A qualitative research approach methodology was used. Teacher educators and pre-service teachers from a teacher training college were identified to be the focus of this study. It aimed to investigate their attitudes, knowledge and understanding on special and inclusive education and to find out if the current training is making adequate provision for these two approaches to occur. The primary source of data collection was the use of semi-structured interviews, done through face to face interview followed by a focus group interview. Interview questions were developed for both teacher educators and pre-service teachers. The focus group interview involved all participants. According to the literature, school organisation, leadership, pre-service training and staff development together with policy and funding are just some factors that can contribute to the success of inclusive education. The results suggested that teacher educators and pre-service teachers appeared to have limited knowledge and understanding on what constitutes special education and inclusive practices. There was also a lack of sound policy at the government level that would pave the way for inclusive education in the Solomon Islands. This situation had created a gap between inclusive education policy and practices in the country. Because of lack of policy at the nation level, it had also affected the way other institutions like the School of Education perceived inclusive education. This was evident in that, the notion of educating children with special needs in an inclusive classroom and environment was never introduced to pre-service teachers in the course of their pre-service training at the School of Education (SOE). That was the hallmark of this study. This study suggests that firstly, it is very important for teachers to understand the importance of teaching children with special needs in an inclusive environment. Secondly, this notion of teaching children with special needs in inclusive classroom should be introduced into the curriculum of pre-service training for beginning teachers. Thirdly, all stake holders need to have a change of mindset to create a positive attitude to special education and inclusive practices.
Type of thesis
Simi, J. (2008). Teacher Educators’ and Pre-service Teachers’ Attitudes, Knowledge and Understanding on Special Education and Inclusive Education in the Solomon Islands. (Thesis, Master of Special Education (MSpEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2451
The University of Waikato
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