Lopez, Iréne

Inclusive Education A New Phase of Special Education in Sri Lanka - Göteborg Department of Education, Göteborg University - 119p.

Sri Lanka schools need to change to include more children with disabilities into ordinary classrooms. Education is put forward by the authorities as important target for equal participation for children with special educational needs in the form of inclusive education.

This case study on inclusive education is carried out in eight schools in Sri Lanka, four from each urban and rural areas. It is inspired in design by triangulation used in ethnographic studies. The study involves children with and without disability, principals, ordinary classteachers, sp cial euucation teachers and pnrcnts of participating children with disabilities.

The study has an interpreting approach ai:ning at 'understanding' the complicated process when language only is not a pre-condition for understanding and has it's base in hermeneutic tradition. The questions investigated are how schoolstaff understand inclusion and if some exclusion is taken for granted or applied to certain groups. It is also to study if children with and without disabilities interact with each other, and how parents of children with disabilities who participate in the study experience their children's education. In addition it is to find the differences in view about inclusion between schools.

The background material covers a brief description of Sri Lanka and it's educationa l development, different views on integration and inclusion, l ooks at internationa l documents, investigate cultural aspects and looks at inclusion in practice.

The results are 'thick' meaning that the material has a literal description of the course of events, interpretation of meanings and descriptive data in terms of cultural norms and rules, public values, deep-rooted attitudes and views.

All the eight schools are practicing inclusive education on some level. Most of them have a conscious approach leading to more and more children being included into ordinary classrooms. In none of the schools are all children with disabilities/special educational needs rejected by their peers.

This study illuminates that decisions taken by governments has i mplications on state-, provincial-, district-, and local level but that the most important change must take place in schools and class-rooms. Most teachers and principals in the study are willing to support inclusive education if they are provided with skills training pertaining to inclusive education, time for planning and necessary resources. How inclusive education is perceived is also a matter of culture.

Sri Lanka
Inclusive education
Special needs education