Enhancing Participation, Expanding Access: The Double Axis of Sustainable Educational Development :THE EMERGING PARADIGM FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION

Graduate School of Education and Human Development

From an international perspective, the "new movement" or paradigm shift in primary schooling in developing regions has several elements that can be unified into a central framework that builds on the principle of equal educational opportunity for all children. The framework incorporates seven major principles:

Table 5.1 outlines these seven principles and gives examples of the needs of developing countries that are associated with each one. Each of these principles is then discussed in greater detail in the section that follows.

Principles for a New Paradigm for UPE

  1. Legal assurances at the international, national and local levels of the right to primary education for all children.

  2. Commitment to a child-centered philosophy of education.
  3. Flexible application of curriculum and materials to make it more relevant to the lives of children.
  4. Strengthening the link between regular and special educational systems to increase responsiveness to diverse learners.
  5. Commitment to a shared responsibility within communities for the healthy development and education of all children, through the development of cooperation and coordination across service agencies.
  6. Recognition that the improvements in quality of schools and teaching depend on improved professional development.
  7. Commitment to a developmental and holistic approach to education.

The next section discusses in greater detail the seven principles in the order in which they appeared in the above table, and discusses the needs of developing countries that are associated with each one.

Principle 1: Legal Assurances at the International, National and Local Levels

Progress towards universal primary education (UPE) means that primary schools increasingly have to respond to a greater number of children who have never experienced primary education. They must begin to accommodate the different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds of these children and their broader range of learning styles, behaviors, capabilities, and potential in all sensory domains. Changes in legislation, operations, financial management, and professional training will need to occur to ensure that primary education is provided to all children. Primary education must be delivered with an acceptance of a new norm for the student population, which can no longer be used as a means for exclusion from education. Table 5.2 summarizes the shift in philosophy from the more traditional and exclusive frame of thinking to a new framework of inclusion which accepts that all children have a right to primary education.

Legal Assurances of Education for All

Traditional Pattern

Inclusive Pattern

Education for some

Education for all
Exclusive teaching and learning

Inclusive teaching and learning
All children are the same

Differences are the norm
Learning in segregated settings

Learning in integrated settings
Educational opportunities limited by
exclusion by the regular education system

Access to the same range of educational
opportunities as children without special needs

Many children in primary school will come from remote areas, from deprived environments, and from illiterate families. Many more will have suffered irreversible early childhood disabilities from malnourishment or illness, which will limit their ability to learn. Some still arrive at school malnourished, ill, handicapped, or otherwise unready for learning. Some will come as first generation primary schoolers and will be ill-prepared for formal learning. Many more than in the past will have special educational and broader human needs (Lynch, 1994).

If these children are to experience success in primary school, they must be ready for learning and schools must be ready to respond to their needs and overall life circumstances. if schools can respond to a wider diversity of learning needs, then precious resources allocated to the expansion of primary education will not be lost through high drop-out rates, repetition, and reduced learning.

Principle 2: Commitment to a Child-Centered Philosophy of Education

Under the new paradigm for primary education, educators believe that all children can learn in different ways and to different degrees. There is an expectation that they can learn and progress and that the teacher's responsibility is to assist the child in that process. A powerful and realistic message of confidence in the ability of children to grow is conveyed to them. Teaching is directed toward each child's success. Mistakes and difficulties are viewed as important elements of the learning process and not as failures. For learning to occur, the content, level, and pace of instruction are appropriate, relevant to the life of the child and to his/her individual needs. Children are active participants and teachers use multiple teaching modalities to activate the learning process. Table 5.3 summarizes the shift from the more traditional philosophy toward the child to a new framework that places the child and individual needs at the center of educational programs.

Education is Child-Centered: Every Child is a Learner

Traditional Pattern

Child-Centered Pattern
Teacher-centered approaches

Child-centered approaches
Content-focused schooling

Learning-focused schooling
Rate-based curriculum

Problem solving-based instruction and life-centered
Passive learning

Active learning
Culturally detached

Culturally sensitive
Failure is the norm

Success is the norm
Information and knowledge based

Learning process based.
Formal written examinations

Continuous and performance-based assessment

These approaches to teaching are unfamiliar to many cultures in developing nations. Thus, training of teachers in such values and strategies needs to be given high priority. Teachers and administrators need to internalize them through active interaction and participation.

Principle 3: Enhancement of Quality

If primary education is to be more effective in serving a greater diversity of children, then schools need a larger repertoire of teaching strategies and the capacity to conduct responsive curriculum development in order to design educational programs for all children. Table 5.4 summarizes the shift in philosophy from the more traditional orientation to educational practices to a new framework of flexibility and accommodation of diversity.

Quality in Curriculum, Instructional Methods and Materials

Traditional Curricula:

Responsive Curricula to Promote Inclusion:
Teachers transmit information

Teachers are a resource
Teachers are remote/non-accountable

Teachers are involved and accountable

Formal textbook-based curriculum

Multimodal curriculum
One teaching method for all

Differential, varied teaching methods
Homogeneous curriculum

Flexible curriculum and enriching
supplementary content

Fixed hours

Flexible hours (within limits)
Class focused

Flexible grouping responsive to children
Rigid grouping by age

Responsive to grouping
Austere classroom environments

Stimulating classroom environments
Formal cooperation only

Formal and non-formal cooperation

Greater flexibility is needed to match curriculum content and the pace of instruction to children's differing learning styles and capacity for progress. Organizational flexibility is required to respond to unique local community needs for flexible school hours and coordination among formal and non-formal educational programs. Cooperation and coordination need to be strengthened between special education and regular education programs; educational units must work toward a continuum of educational placements for children.

Principle 4: Strengthening the Link Between Regular and Special Systems

The concept of a continuum allows educators and parents to realize the possibility and expectation of movement and progression from specialized services into integrated regular settings. The continuum connects special and regular education in a system that shares all students, rather than reinforces the notion of separateness. Table 5.5 summarizes the shift from the more traditional institutional pattern of separation to one of integration of regular and special educational programs to serve a greater diversity of children.

Strengthening Linkages Between Regular and Special Educational Systems

Traditionally Separate Institutional Systems:

Integrated System to Promote Inclusion:
Educational placements are separated into "regular" and "special" to serve "two different types of children"; students seldom are reintegrated into the regular class once they are removed.

Design of a flexible and responsive continuum of educational placements.
Regular and special education teachers are provided separate inservice training, which reinforces the orientation to separate systems.

Joint inservice training of regular and special education teachers in the philosophy of inclusive education.
In initial training, regular education teachers are prepared only to serve "regular" students; they refer out al students with special needs.

Initial training of regular education teachers includes strategies for serving children with special needs in the regular class.
The locus of special educational services remains in the segregated special education class or school.

The locus of special educational services and support is shifted to the regular school and regular classes.
Educational planning for regular children and those with special needs is conducted separately.

Educational planning for children with special needs includes both regular and special educators.
Supervision of educational services to regular and special needs students is conducted separately.

Supervision of educational services to regular and special needs students is integrated.
Special educational supports in the regular class are unavailable.

Special educational supports in the regular class are available to any child who cannot achieve adequately in the regular class.
Special educators communicate with families of special needs students; regular educators with regular students' families.

Parent and family involvement is encouraged through joint communication with families by both regular and special educators.
Families are informed about special educational services available in special settings.

Families are informed about the service continuum and educated to the philosophy of inclusive and relevant education.

Cooperation and coordination between special education facilities, teachers, and regular education schools need to become the normal practice, since no one system alone can meet all children's needs. The new commitment needs to begin with training of teachers and inservice training of both regular and special school personnel. Such training is most effective when these personnel are trained together and are provided opportunities to share their perspectives and experiences. The management style in educational systems needs to emphasize cooperation and coordination between special and regular education to promote integration and the sharing of knowledge and resources.

Principle 5: Commitment to a Shared Responsibility within Communities

Under the new paradigm for primary education, schools are viewed as an integral part of the community environment. The "community" is not viewed as a separate entity from which children come and to which children are released upon graduation from primary school. Instead, the community becomes a vital.and sustained partner in the planning and implementation of instruction and support services to all children. Table 5.6 summarizes the shift from the traditional paradigm, in which the educational system is detached from the involvement of the wider community, to a new community systems philosophy of shared responsibility for educational planning and delivery.

Shared Responsibility for a Community Support System for Children

Traditional Dual Systems:

Shared Responsibility:
The Community is viewed as a separate entity from the schools; schools may be viewed as "government owned" and not particularly responsive or relevant to the community.

Schools are an integral part of the community; they are viewed as "belonging" to the community, not to the "government" or state.
The community is excluded from education planning, implementation, or participation in establishing expected educational outcomes.

The community is an active and ongoing partner in planning and implementing educational programs and in defining expected educational outcomes.
Parents and families may be discouraged from involvement or excluded.

Parent and family involvement is highly valued.
Families may view the schools and the curriculum as irrelevant to the needs and realities of community life and work.

Families are educated to the philosophy of inclusive and relevant education.
Health and nutritional supports are unavailable in the schools and can only be obtained in separate facilities, if at all.

Health and nutritional supports are provided in the schools
Community agencies are not viewed as or used as resources for the early identification of children with special needs, curriculum planning or assisting with transition at school completion.

Community agencies are involved in early identification of children with special needs, in curriculum planning and in assisting with transition from school at completion.

In a community-responsive educational system, the school is seen as belonging not to the government but to the community which it serves with a responsibility for all children. The support of all segments of the community is needed to produce quality educational outcomes, and expectations of the school are high among pupils, parents and teachers.

Principle 6: Preparing Educators for Diversity

Systematic training of teachers to address a diversity of needs among heterogenous groups of children needs to become a goal throughout the developing world. in many countries already, teacher training institutions are combining training in special educational practices with regular education training programs. Such integrated initial training is expected to help advance the practice and principles of integration at the school level. Teachers need both initial training and continuous practice-based, inservice training to develop and renew their competence for teaching children with special educational needs. Areas of competence that training should address include:

Table 5.7 summarizes the shift in practice from traditional teacher training practices to new models of continuous renewal of competence.

Professional Development to Respond to Diversity:
Promoting Continued Renewal of Teacher Competence

Traditional Teacher Training:

New Models for Continuous Renewal of Professional Competence:

Front-end training, once-and-for-all

Recurrent and lifelong
Focused on a single population

Multigrade and focused on diversity
Content focused

Process focused

Child learning-centered
Theoretical and abstract

Professional practice-based and focused on real school environment
Lecture style teaching and classroom-based

Culturally sensitive methods and instructional settings
Single discipline-focused



Teacher education needs to emphasize the successful learning processes at the teacher level as well as at the children's level. Teachers, made aware of the diversity of children and their special needs, are encouraged to develop a broad repertoire of instructional strategies, methods, and materials, together with assessment methods to identify and respond to a range of special needs of students. They acquire attitudes that promote integration and inclusion of students and promote the involvement of parents and family members in their children's education. They develop skills in consultation and interpersonal relations and are taught ways of cooperating with parents and the community and to work in teams with other teachers. They are exposed to evaluating their own teaching performance as well as their pupils' strengths, weaknesses, and progress.

Principle 7: Commitment to a Holistic and Developmental Approach to Educating Children

The principle of the holistic and developmental approach to education is related to, but differs from, the concept of "community shared responsibility" (Principle 5). While shared responsibility assumes that a broad range of community agencies and organizations need to collaborate in educating children, holistic and developmental programming refers to assumptions in the design of an educational system that is most responsive to the broad range of needs of children. Such schools are associated with increased enrollment and achievement of children in the primary grades. The holistic and developmental approach is based on the assumptions that:

In a school system that applies developmental and holistic principles, educational services address a range of related domains that impact upon educational achievement, including health and physical status, nutritional status, emotional support and supervision, family relations, work demands, employment opportunities, family dislocation and migration, environmental conditions (and disasters), political unrest and conflicts, and stigma and discrimination based on ethnicity or disability. In countries with adequate educational resources, early sensory stimulation and preacademic programming begin in the first year of life through the coordination of many community agencies. Appropriate remedial support continues in a developmental fashion through the primary years. Special attention and assistance are provided as the child makes the critical transition from family to elementary and secondary school, and from completion of primary school and entry into employment or family life.

Holistic and developmental design means integrating early intervention, health, and nutritional supports with educational services within a developmental continuum of services for the health and development of the child from birth through school age. Many developing countries are realizing that policies and actions to combat malnutrition must occur through "holistic," or integrated, inter-sectoral methods. The integration of primary health care and nutrition education with basic primary education are technical and social necessities. Approaches to malnutrition include providing easily understandable information on proper child-rearing, including suitable caring procedures for good health (Yoddumnern-Attig & Kanungsukkasem, 1992). Table 5.8 summarizes the shift from the traditionally narrow view of educational development as simply academic or basic skills development, to a broader, holistic view of a system that can respond to a broad range of developmental needs of children.

A Holistic and Developmental Approach to Educating Children

Traditional Approach to Educational Programming:

Developmental and Holistic Educational Programming:
Educational services are focused on the academic and basic skills needs.

Educational services are viewed holistically, with the assumption that many other domains of a child's life do impact upon educational performance.
Educational programming does not address related domains that impact upon educational achievement.

Educational programming addresses factors that impact upon educational achievement (e.g., health and physical status, nutritional status, emotional support and supervision, family relations, work demands, environmental conditions and disasters, political conditions and conflicts, and stigma of ethnicity or disability).
The educational system accepts at "face value" children's level of performance and potential at initial enrollment and may not assess other factors that interact with performance.

Educational programming recognizes the cumulative effects of disability and other life conditions in early development.
Educational programming begins with the first primary grade; preschool opportunities are either limited or unavailable.

Educational programming (early sensory stimulation and preacademic activities) begin in the first year of life to help prepare children for primary school.
Special supports are not provided during critical transitions in the early development of the child (e.g., from family to primary school and from school completion to employment or family life.)

Specialized supports are provided as the child makes the transition from family to elementary school, at school completion and entry into employment or family life.
Teachers are trained in primary education and are provided little content in early development.

Teachers understand developmental milestones for children in early childhood and preschool years and their impact upon primary educational achievement.

The seven principles represent guidelines for developing inclusive educational programs. Schools which base their programs upon these principles would show the following characteristics:

Many of the markers or benchmarks for the greater inclusion of children with special educational needs in basic and primary education have already been set by nations in the Asia region as well as by bilateral and international agencies and more developed countries. Over the past few decades, many developed and developing countries have recognized the need for stronger policies to protect the rights of children to a quality education. There is a great deal of evidence that, in the last decade, a partial shift in the institutional and cultural content of attitudes towards children with special educational needs has already occurred.

The Imperative for Inclusive Education in Developing Regions

This paper has explored questions of why broad-based educational initiatives in expanding educational access are important for sustainable development in developing regions. It has examined two interrelated dynamics important to sustainable educational development practices and policies: (a) building capacity for developing inclusive educational approaches; and (b) enhancing full participation in the educational practice and policy decisions by the people who are affected by them. Sustainable educational development addresses the needs of all populations of children and their families, is inclusive, and involves the broadest possible participation by all segments of the country's population.

Policy research and evaluations of development initiatives have taught several lessons. Recently, development experts and recipient country leaders have recognized that new relationships among aid agencies and developing countries require a fundamental paradigm shift in values and actions both for aid agencies and the country's institutions they seek to benefit. In a major shift away from conventional approaches to development, these new assumptions emphasize equitable development, investment in people and their participation in the development process, and education and training as a primary human resource investment strategy. Expectations for development initiatives are changing and are now expected to (a) be able to both meet the needs of present and future development capacity-building, (b) be sensitive to the environment, (c) emphasize investment in people, and (d) be conducted within a participatory process of equitable development and a sound policy framework. The aim of contemporary development strategies is the development of long term sustainability and internal institutional development, particularly in education.

Contemporary development experts have concluded that promoting the empowerment of individuals and educational organizations to determine their own destinies can greatly increase social and economic progress and self-reliance in developing regions. Promoting empowerment means facilitating participatory change processes and local decision making and constructing development efforts in a collaborative manner among aid agencies, multiple local institutions, and the beneficiaries of external assistance. Results of analyses of educational development efforts also reveal that educational development is accelerated when it is supported by strong legal instruments, when internal collaboration with external aid agencies in development projects is enhanced, when indigenous capacity for development is strengthened, and when broader access to education is achieved.

Educational development experts support several strategies which increase access to education. These include: (1) establishing educational programs which prepare people for broader participation in country decision making; (2) promoting local participation in the planning of educational projects; (3) assessing the educational needs of the general population for basic or advanced education; (d) engaging local leaders in establishing educational priorities; and (e) ensuring that the needs of the population are broadly represented in country-level educational development and policy discussions. Progress is already being made toward implementing the principles that have been described in this paper. Many countries in developing regions are realizing that the goal of universal basic education will require increasing the participation of groups of children who have remained marginal. Most of these countries have already begun to address the quality of education and have begun making provisions for various special population groups. Developing countries have a new interest in providing education to children with special needs by integrating them into general educational settings. Promoting universal access to basic education is a first step toward participation and greater self reliance of people in the development of their communities and their nations.

INSTITUTE for EDUCATION POLICY STUDIES, Occasional Paper Series March, 1998

CED Documentation is for your personal reference and study only