This paper is concerned with enhancing inclusive education (IE) programmes in the developing countries (DCs). It is estimated that 80% of the world's population of people with disabilities live in DCs of Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East, some 150 million of them being children, but only 2% are receiving any form of special needs services. Thus, successful implementation of IE could increase the number of those with disabilities receiving education in the DCs. Evidence, however, indicates that IE is not being satisfactorily implemented in these countries. Factors such the absence of support services, relevant materials, inadequate personnel training programmes, lack of funding structure and the absence of enabling legislation are the major problems of effective implementation of IE in these countries. It is suggested that community based IE programmes should be considered as the major initiative to utilise in service delivery for people with disabilities in the DCs. The major issues in the development of effective community based IE programmes in the DCs are identified.
The trends in the educational provision for students with special needs have since the past two and half decades continued to focus on the education of children and young people with disabilities in the same setting as their peers without special needs. Called inclusion, mainstreaming or integration, it has been described as the central issue in educational services provision today (Guilford and Upton, 1992). In the United States it is referred to as "full inclusion" (Bunch, 1994). According Bunch:
Full inclusion (FI) in the educational sense, argues that all students must have the opportunity to be enrolled in the regular classroom of the neighbourhood school with age-appropriate peers, or to attend the same school as their brothers and sisters. FI in the regular classroom requires that both regular students and those with some type of challenge to their learning receive appropriate educational programmes that are challenging and yet geared to their capabilities and needs as well as any support or assistance they and or their teachers may need to be successful in the mainstream (p. 150).
In this paper the terms 'mainstreaming', 'integration', and 'FI' are used interchangeably to mean the same thing.
Support for Inclusion
Although concerns remain about the 'workability' of FI for some category of learners with special needs (for example, Klingner et al., 1998; Roberts & Mather, 1995), evidence indicates that it is widely supported due to the positive social and educational outcomes it can produce for learners with special needs (for example, Mills, et al., 1998; Vaughn, et al., 1998; Waldron & McLeskey 1998).
Evidence clearly suggests that where integration is adequately implemented by the provision of the right support services, it could provide numerous benefits to learners with special needs. Research indicates that integration has lead to the majority of learners with special needs being educated in regular schools in some countries. Foulkes (1994) reports that by 1983 only 13.3 percent of deaf children in the UK were in special schools for deaf students; 15 percent were in partially hearing units (PHUs) attached to mainstream schools and 71.3 percent were in local mainstream schools receiving support from teachers of the deaf and other support personnel. In the United States, Schildroth and Hotto (1993) have reported that 54 percent of secondary school-aged deaf students are in FI programmes. Similarly, the results of Centre for Demographic Studies (1984) survey in the United States indicate that the majority of deaf students in the USA are in day schools, day classes, integrated programmes and live at home with their families. Only 28% of deaf children were found to be attending special residential schools.
Problems of Integration in Developing Countries
Inclusive programmes are desirable in the developing countries (DCs) in that it is estimated that 80% of the world's population of people with disabilities live in DCs of Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East, some 150 million of them being children, but only 2% are receiving any form of special needs services (Khan, 1996; Mittler, 1993a). Clearly, successful implemenation of inclusive education could increase the number of those with disabilities receiving education in the DCs. Although evidence (for example, UNESCO, 1996) suggests that the education policies in many DCs recognise integration as a desirable form of education for individuals with special needs, it remains the case that integration is not being satisfactorily implemented in these countries. Research indicates that factors such the absence of support services, relevant materials and support personnel are the major problems of effective implementation of integration in these countries. In particular, evidence suggests that at the tertiary level of education most students with disabilities who were able to gain admission "are on their own" as they receive no special support to help them on their courses (Eleweke, 1997; Kiyimba, 1997). Some of the major areas of concern pertaining to integration in DCs are reviewed further below.
Lack of Facilities and Materials
Evidence suggests that the lack of relevant facilities and materials is major obstacle to the implementation of effective integration in DCs (Anumonye, 1991; Kholi, 1993). Anumonye (1991) investigated the problems of integration in the West African country of Nigeria. The data indicate that the required educational materials were not provided or were inadequate in regular schools where students with special needs were being integrated. Further, the data indicate that there were no specialist teachers in most institutions to provide important advisory services that would assist the regular teachers with managing the learners with special needs who were being integrated into public schools. In some school, Anumonye found that there was so little contact between the children with disabilities and their teachers and other pupils. It was observed that those children at the primary levels were socially isolated since they just sat in the classrooms and never participated in any activity outside the confines of the classroom. Ozoji (1995) observes that most of the institutions lack the basic units and materials necessary to provide adequate special needs education. In Asia, Kholi (1993) reports that institutional facilities are grossly inadequate in all countries in the continent as they are serving less than 1% of the population with special needs.
Inadequate Personnel Training Programmes
Apart from regular and special needs teachers of different kinds, the successful education of learners with disabilities in integrated schools requires the involvement of different professionals who assist in identification, referral, diagnosis, treatment, and provision of appropriate educational services. Research indicates that adequately trained professionals are required in the provision of meaningful educational services to students with special needs in regular schools (Eleweke, 1999a).
Evidence suggests that several institutions of higher education in many DCs have training programmes for regular and special needs teachers (Eleweke, 1999a; Marfo, 1994). However, training programmes for specialist personnel such as educational audiologists, psychologists, speech and language pathologists and communication support workers such as interpreters are not available in many of the DCs (Eleweke, 1999a). Furthermore, concerns remain about the adequacy of the teacher training programmes in view of the lack of relevant special materials and facilities in the institutions in the DCs.
Lack of Funding Structure
According to Chaikind, Danielson, and Brauen (1993), the estimated costs of providing special education and other services to pupils with special needs are 2.3 times greater than the cost of providing for students without special needs. Thus a well-structured funding arrangement is desirable for meeting the cost of providing adequate educational services for students with disabilities in integrated schools. Data available on the structure of funding of educational services for these students in many DCs are at best scanty. In general, it appears that with the prevailing economic and political turbulence in many of these countries special education services are not being adequately funded in many DCs. A recent World Bank (1996) report shows that educational services are deteriorating as a result of severe decrease in funding in many African countries.
Although the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education adopted at the World Conference on Special Needs Education reaffirmed the commitment of the world community (including DCs) to "give the highest policy and budgetary priority to improve their educational systems to enable them to include all children regardless of individuals differences and difficulties (UNESCO 1994, p. ix), research indicates that in many DCs it remains the case that special needs provision will NOT be a priority of government policy and expenditure (Brohier, 1995; Kisanji, 1995; McConkey & O'Toole, 1995). Some of the reasons for this according to Mba (1995) are: (1) meeting the needs of citizens with special needs is considered "too costly", (2) it is argued that the needs of the "normal" majority will have to be met prior to meeting those of individuals with special needs who are in the minority, and (3) due to lack of awareness of the potentials of people with disabilities, expenditure on services for them is considered "a waste of scarce funds" and that even with the best training some of them will perpetually remain "tax-eaters" and never becoming "tax-payers".
It remains the case that in several DCs the financial provision for the education and other needs of individuals with disabilities in undertaken largely by non-governmental organizations - NGOs (Brouillette, 1993). Evidence from UNESCO (1995) review of the situation of special education in several member countries reveal that in twenty-six of them (mostly in DCs) NGOs were considered the major source of funding while in several other DCs, NGOs provide up to 40% of the costs of special needs provision. McConachie and Zinkin (1995) observe that these sources of funding can bring with them their own problems through the imposition of conditions that smack of imperialism for the receipt of the financial aid. According to these authors:
Some NGOs assert their own religious and ideological views in deciding where to allocate funds...And (such) organizations tend to impose their own consultants on the developing country programme even where there are experienced local professionals...The NGOs frequently provide generous but short-term funding so that the project cannot continue when funds are withdrawn (p. 221).
Absence of Enabling Legislation
Research indicates that mandatory policies and laws support the effective implementation of integration programmes in many countries. These are essential to ensure that the required services will be provided and that a basis for quality control (that is, monitoring) will be ensured. Further, mandatory policies and laws are necessary in the implementation of inclusive programmes in that they possess (1) protective safeguards which guarantee the rights of the beneficiary to receive specific services, (2) time of onset and phase plans, (3) consequential effect (that is, punishment) for non-compliance, (4) room for litigation, (5) accountability, evaluation and monitoring procedures, and (6) financial backing and structure (Eleweke, 1998).
Results of a UNESCO (1996) study pertaining to the laws on special needs provision in 52 member nations indicate clearly that legislation is needed to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities to equal rights and opportunities and it can further help in securing the resources needed to translate abstract rights into practical entitlements. Indeed, research indicates that in many technically advanced countries the importance and positive impacts of mandatory laws and policies on the implementation of inclusive programmes are recognised (Ballard, 1996; Etscheidt & Bartlet, 1999; Fletcher & Kaufman de Lopez, 1995; Harvey, 1998).
Considering the importance of laws in the implementation of inclusive programmes in particular and the provision of appropriate services for individuals with disabilities at large, it comes as no surprise that inclusive education and other services for these individuals in many DCs remain at an embryonic stage due to the absence of mandatory laws and policies influencing the provision of these services. Evidence indicates that legislative guidelines covering special needs provision are non-existent or antiquated in most DCs. Eleweke, 1999b; Hall & Figueroa, 1998; UNESCO 1995). Thus, in the absence of any mandatory order stipulating what services are to be provided, by whom, how, when and where, liases faire attitude prevails in the provision of educational services for learners with disabilities in many DCs.
Implications and Conclusion
Although evidence suggests that integration has been adopted as an important educational policy on the basis of social justice and equity in many DCs, the educational and other benefits of mainstreaming are not being achieved in many DCs as result of the barriers to the implementation of effective integration discussed in this paper. Clearly, due to the prevailing economic and developmental difficulties in many DCs, achieving Western-type notions of inclusion will remain unrealistic. How then can education be brought to within the reach of the teeming millions of individuals with disabilities in DCs to enable them achieve their potentials? This is not an easy question to address. Nonetheless, it is suggested that community based rehabilitation (CBR) programmes should be considered as the new initiative to utilise in service delivery for people with disabilities in the DCs. Helander (1993) considers CBR as an effective strategy for improving service delivery, for providing equitable opportunities and for promoting and protecting all human rights of people with disabilities.
Evidence suggests that CBR has developed as a result of existing services in residential settings failing to meet the needs of most people with disabilities in DCs. It is estimated that most of these people live in rural or marginal urban communities (Mittler, 1993b; O'Toole, 1991). Thus it is argued that special needs provision and rehabilitation would be more effective in their immediate environment, rather than in the institution which may be inaccessible due to costs and its location in cities which may be hundreds of miles away. O'Toole and Stout (1997) have indeed observed that more traditional models of rehabilitation (i.e., institutions):
are criticised for reaching only the privileged few in urban areas and for being too capital and technological-intensive, too specialised, too isolating from normal life, and too western in origin, practice and prejudice. The goal of CBR (therefore) is to demystify the rehabilitation process and give responsibility back to the individual, family and community (p. 46).
The basis for CBR then, is that the family is the primary trainer and that the community as a whole can be mobilised for support. The important aspects of CBR to be implemented in the community at integrated settings include public information, prevention, education, technology, (medical, aids, equipment and devices), social, psychological and vocational programmes. Various workers have discussed strategies for the development and implementation of effective CBR programmes, for instance, while Padmani (1995) and Eleweke (1995) have suggested the roles of various professionals in the establishment of viable CBR programmes, Krishna (1995) has examined factors that contribute to the sustainability of these programmes.
Research indicates that CBR programmes have been in operation and have been found to be making positive impact on special needs provision and rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities in many DCs countries, for instance Mexico (Werner, 1995); Guyana (O'Toole, 1995); Lesotho (Khatleli & Mariga, 1995); Philippines (McGlade & Aquino, 1995); Vietnam (Hai & Nhan, 1995); India (Krishna, 1995; Roa, 1997); Zimbabwe (Mariga & McConkey, 1986); Zanzibar (Khalfan, 1992); and Uganda (Chaudhury, Menon-Sen & Zinkin, 1995). Thus, if adequately planned and implemented, CBR will meet many of the challenges of inclusive education in DCs.
It is strongly recommended that the Governments in DCs should enacts laws to give strong support to the policy of integration by the way of CBR and the provision of other relevant services to individuals with disabilities in these countries. Although mandatory legislations may not be the panacea concerning the provision of effective services, but at least such laws will spell out clearly the kinds of services to be provided, who is to provide them, when, where and how they should be provided. Such mandatory policies will address many of the loopholes hindering the provision of appropriate services, for instance, by specifying the amount of money the government would provide for the procurement of necessary facilities, materials and acquisition of the needed personnel. Further, a mandatory legislation will create room for monitoring and evaluation of the service delivery programme so that changes could be made when and where necessary to achieve even greater improvement. Also there would be provision for accountability to guard against corruption and misuse of funds meant for special needs provision. Most importantly, a mandatory order on special needs provision will contain implications for non-compliance, that is, consequential effect. This means that it will create room for litigation in cases where the provisions of the order are not being adhered.
Thus it is a challenge to organisations of and for people with disabilities and interested professional organisations to intensify public awareness and advocacy campaigns with a view to influencing the policy-makers to take the needs of individuals with disabilities into consideration in enacting laws. The history of special needs provision in many countries of the world acknowledge the important roles played by pressure groups of and for people with disabilities in bringing about the needed changes and improvements in services. Evidence indicates that in many countries, these pressure groups have continued to assume greater responsibility by exerting pressure on governments to provide needed services and to enact and enforce legislations guaranteeing the rights of people with disabilities to receive appropriate services. It becomes obvious that such associations in DCs (for e.g., National Council for Exceptional Children, National Association of Special Education Teachers, Advisory Council for the Deaf, Advisory Council for the Blind, National Association for the Deaf, and National Association for the Blind) have significant roles in persuading their governments to recognise the needs of citizens with disabilities in the formulation of policies and laws.
It is suggested that people with disabilities, their associations, parent and professional groups should engage in activities that will contribute to the promotion of awareness of the needs of people with disabilities in these countries by increasing and co-ordinating advocacy activities. These groups must collaborate and intensify public awareness and advocacy campaigns. The needs of people with disabilities and the poor conditions of services must be kept in the foreground of public and government attention through the activities of these groups. These groups must recognise that they are the social and legislative forces that can and must influence government policies to include the needs and rights of citizens with special needs to receive appropriate services. In order to achieve this goal, it becomes imperative that these groups should co-operate and co-ordinate their activities, and eschew divisions, which the governments will only be too glad to exploit. If these groups collaborate harmoniously and relentlessly, they would be able to make significant impacts such as persuading their governments to enact legislation on special needs provision, to create special presidential commissions on special needs provision, and to provide adequate funding allocations for improved special needs provision. With such developments, there would then be an improvement in special needs provision in the long run. However, the concern remains as to whether these groups are aware of the challenge and ready to take it up.
It is suggested that all higher education institutions in DCs should be adequately equipped by the educational authorities to enable them provide appropriate training to prospective special needs teachers and specialist support staff. The governments should encourage selected firms in these countries to boost the production of educational equipment and materials to meet the needs of these institutions. Further, it is also recommended that these training institutions should develop programmes for the training of specialist support personnel such as educational audiologists, educational psychologists, speech and language therapists, and guidance counsellors. More institutions of further education in these countries should be equipped and upgraded to offer programmes for the training of these professionals. In addition, the necessary facilities for them to work with should be provided in all the institutions serving students with special needs in these countries. The opportunities should be created for the teachers of students with special needs to participate and benefit from in-service training by the organisation of workshops and seminars on a regular basis within the schools. Okeke (1998) suggests that such training should be on an annual basis. In addition, adequate arrangement should be made so that the teachers should be able to attend external in-service training. Ultimately, it is the schools and the students that stand to gain from the improved knowledge, better practices and skills the teachers acquire from such training programmes.
In conclusion, it is recommended that the relevant authorities in DCs should consider strategies that could facilitate the planning and implementation of CBR and other programmes that would address the inadequacies in special needs provision for people with disabilities in these countries that have been highlighted in this paper. The organisations of people with disabilities and relevant professional ones should intensify advocacy activities to ensure that these governments duly take the needs of individuals with special needs in these countries into consideration in policy formulation and legislative mandates.
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