CHAPTER 2 THE INCLUSION OF VISUALLY-IMPAIRED LEARNERS IN SCHOOLS
In addition to the theoretical frame work of the study, this chapter reviews literary works on the historical and international perspectives of inclusion for visually-impaired learners. It also deals with the history, practice and current status of inclusion for visually-impaired learners in Ethiopia. In addition to this, the chapter gives a detailed description of the legal and constitutional aspects of inclusive education in the country and the legal and educational definitions of visual impairment and its prevalence as well as the way visually-impaired learners can be taught in inclusive settings.
According to Armstrong, Armstrong and Spandagou (2010:24), inclusive education originates from the idea of a “just and fair society” in contrast to discriminatory educational systems. Scholars such as Tirussew (2005:112) and Asrat (2013:59) also strongly argue that the notion of inclusive education evolves from human rights and social justice. As a result, the notion of inclusive education is widely supported by international human rights declarations such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). Hence, this research is framed within the theory of justice. Many theories of justice have evolved. John Rawls is one of the theorists who developed the Theory of Justice in 1971. Arneson (2008:1) says that Rawls’ aim was to create a theory of justice that was better than utilitarianism and that could reverse the idea of the ‘No Theory Theory’. Arneson (2008:2) further says that Rawls developed the justice theory as a reaction against utilitarianism for its misrepresentation of different people with different backgrounds or for a non-critical consideration of the differences which are found between/among persons. Another critique, the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (2011:6) concludes that utilitarianism promoted an unequal distribution of resources among societies. Utilitarianism disregarded the rights of disadvantaged people. It gave more rights to upper-class people at the cost of the lower-class society.
Furthermore, Arneson (2008:5-6), Terzi (2010:10), National Pro Bono Resource Centre (2011:7) and Hey and Beyers (2011:238) posit that Rawls’ theory of justice entails two principles. They are liberty (freedom) and social equality. While the first principle supports the right to freedom that every citizen or individual should have, the second principle advocates that social and economic discrepancies should be avoided in order to include the disadvantaged and share resources equally. According to this theory of justice, persons with any kind of impairment, including visually-impaired persons, can enjoy their freedom and benefit from social and economic aspects. In other words, Rawls’ theory of justice is the foundation for the pursuit of social justice by which disadvantaged persons can benefit from social services such as education. Nevertheless, Terzi (2010:10) stresses that Rawls’ theory of justice does not directly focus on education but his theory is open to extend to further developments such as the inequality in education.
Although Rawls’ concept of social justice is found to be prominent, it was also criticised. The National Pro Bono Resource Centre (2011:6) criticised it for giving emphasis to government structures or systematic forms that are implemented not to benefit individuals but to benefit society in a general way. As a result, the National Pro Bono Resource Centre (2011:7) looked into the work of other scholars such as Miller and Sen. Miller’s view of social justice gives more attention to unequal distribution of resources to the society. Sen’s view of social justice gives emphasis to personal capacities to do things and also emphasises inclusivity of every individual (The National Pro Bono Resource Centre, 2011:8). The above discussion shows the different views of Western scholars on social justice but what does social justice really mean? Although scholars define social justice in different ways, they agree on the idea that social justice is about fairness, equality, freedom and/or democracy (Eugene, Provenzo & Provenzo, 2008:730; Hey & Beyers 2011:234; Humpage & Fleras, 2001:39; Jost & Kay, 2010:1122; Kridel, 2010:792). Regarding its derivation, Eugene et al., (2008:729) say the idea of the term justice originates from the Greek “just” which means “fair” and the idea of “just society” which is a model framework for the development of the society.
According to Eugene et al. (2008:729), the concept of social justice has become a vital necessity in the field of education. By giving examples of the relationship between a learner and economic status, the writers articulate that high-achieving learners have a better chance of acceptance, status and social inclusion in their community. Thus, they underline the value of social justice in the education of citizens. Again, Eugene et al., (2008:729) state that the background differences of the children have motivated scholars to study how to alleviate inequalities. These two points leads to the idea that scholars have understood the inequality that disadvantaged learners are exposed to and the importance of education to minimise marginalisation. In addition, it is possible to say that learners with diverse backgrounds such as visually-impaired learners can benefit from educational provision when the learning environment is set up in a way that diverse learner groups can get a ‘just’ education.
In addition, Humpage and Fleras (2001:39) as well as Hey and Beyers (2011:238-tabled three models of social justice. The first one is the distributive model of social justice: the idea behind this is that resources (scarce) are distributed equally to individuals. The second model of social justice is the retributive model. Hey and Beyers (2011:238) say that retributive model is about punishing or rewarding people based on their performance. The retributive model of social justice is also known as “market-individualism”. Again, Humpage and Fleras (2001:40) state that this type of model also deals with giving reimburse to individuals who were unfairly treated in the past. The last one is the re-cognitive model of social justice. This model of social justice seems to appreciate diversity which corresponds with inclusion. In describing the re-cognitive model of social justice, Humpage and Fleras (2001:41, citing Gale, 2000) articulate that it is different from distributive and retributive justice for the reason that re-cognitive model of social justice “…take differences seriously, recognition of the collective rights of groups, support for indigenous models of self-determination, and commitment to inclusiveness through meaningful involvement in decision-making processes”. Hence, this model of justice seems to fit the concept of inclusion because of its closeness to it and can shape the present discussion of the inclusion of visual impairment in this research.
To sum up, studies of the last three decades show that disability is not a health problem; rather it is a civil rights and social problem. Hence, social change is needed in order to avoid discrimination. Additionally, studies in the area of disability have ascertained that disability is not as what it was considered to be by health and bioethics people (Asch, 2001:318-319). Therefore, visual impairment should be viewed from a social justice perspective than medical one. Otherwise, the inclusion of visually-impaired learners in schools will not be inclusion but would amount to special needs education.
THE NATURE OF SCHOOL INCLUSIVITY FOR THE VISUALLY-IMPAIRED LEARNERS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
In this section, the historical and international perspectives of inclusion for visually-impaired learners are discussed. The different views on the current status of inclusive education are synthesised. In adition, the history of visual impairment education and its emergence in various countries is explained. Following this, the history, practice and status of inclusion for visual impairment in Ethiopia are briefly discussed. Furthermore, a discussion has been included on the legal, constitutional and policy aspects of inclusive education in Ethiopia in relation to the inclusion of visually-impaired learners.
Historical and International Perspectives of Inclusion for Visually-Impaired Learners
Abebe (2000:18) explains that persons with disabilities prior to the 1700s in the cultures of Romans and Greeks were highly discriminated and were victims of killings being considered as unnecessary human beings. Braddock and Parish (2001:12) also indicate that those children who had in-birth impairments were killed whereas after-birth impaired persons were integrated into the community as workers, citizens and soldiers. However, in countries like the ancient Egypt, persons with disability were not discriminated against: rather they had different high-ranking positions. For instance, there was a blind king of the pharaohs (Enerstvedt, 1996:6).
Before the early 19th century the people with disabilities were neglected and their disability was seen as a result of evil deeds or sin. They were kept inside their homes not to be seen by other people (MoE, 2012:2). Nevertheless, the introduction of special needs education has changed the minds of many. An institutional movement towards people with disabilities in Europe and United States evolved from 1800-1900. The movement itself was the result of the awareness of the need of people with disabilities by both physicians and educators. These two bodies again created awareness on the public and changed their attitudes. Hence, the first public school for the mentally retarded was opened in USA in 1896. From this time, the change in attitude of the people has contributed to an understanding that persons with disabilities are teachable (MoE, 2012:2).
However, in countries of Europe, North America and Australasia, special education was aimed at identifying persons with disabilities, and categorising them in order to provide special schools for them (Armstrong, et al., 2010:5).
In the 1990s, the UNESCO, through its Salamanca Statement, made the term inclusion familiar. From that time, many have started to think of it from different perspectives. Among others, Ainscow and Haile-Giorgis (1998:4) have seen it from the education perspective and state that the exclusion of children from schools has become a “political agenda” for many nations. Armstrong, et al., (2010: vii) state:
Inclusive education has become fashionable. Like all fashions its origins lie in the haute couture imagination, and from there has spread out, first into mass production for the high street and, thereafter, rapidly into the world of cheap replicas and reproductions. The world of high fashion is a strange world of creativity and abstraction, a world of extreme self-confidence and banal triviality.
The above quotation of comparison of inclusive education with fashion design leads to an understanding of inclusive education as being critically designed by scholars and it gained acceptance all over the world not because of its outer beauty but because of its innate importance to the education of human beings. In light of this, Armstrong et al. (2010: vii) articulate that inclusive education emerged after serious arguments between scholars. Again, Forbes (2007:66) states that government education policy makers introduced inclusion because they have the responsibility to make education accessible for all citizens. Hodkinson (2010:61) says that the idea of inclusive education was introduced in the 1900s. However, the current form of inclusion is the result of 1960s civil rights movement and debates on segregation policies. The MoE (2012:3), similarly, states that starting from 1960/70 up to today, inclusive education has been gaining acceptance by the people and educators due to pressure from parents, organisations of persons with disabilities, and human right movements.
According to the UNESCO Salamanca Statement (1994:6), agreements were made on the inclusion of learners with disabilities to learn with other learners in regular schools. By the same token, Mitchell (2010:121) states that in many countries of the world, the idea of inclusive education has become dominant in the education of LSEN. Mitchell further says that special needs education has shown many changes over the last 40 years. It has transferred from segregation to integration and then to the recent ideology of inclusive education.
Persons with disabilities and their supporters have been opposing traditional system of special needs education because it has a negative impact which labeled them as having no abilities at all. Similarly, policy-makers have become interested in the idea of inclusion. They believe that inclusion is important in creating unity among socially and culturally diverse members of society. The notion of inclusive education has attracted not only the developed countries of North America, Europe and Australasia but also developing countries. Recently governments of many countries have been focusing on social inclusion in their policies. ‘Education reform’ is considered as a motive for the existence of strong social ‘integration and cohesion’. Transnational organisations like the UN, UNESCO, the World Bank and the UK’s Department for International Development have been the main promoters of inclusion as the basis for the education system (Armstrong, et al., 2010:3-4).
Mitchell (2010:19) argues that the main actors for the spread of new thoughts of education all over the world are United Nations (UN) agencies. Mitchell further mentions that there are four main sources of influence: international conventions, the dissemination of influential legislation, mainly from the US and UK, the research literature and the internet. Similarly, Wertheimer (1997:5) mentions agencies such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the UN Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (1993) and UNESCO’s Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Inclusive Education (1994) which have been playing their role against the idea of segregation. The documents, further, have a lion’s share in bringing the notion of inclusive education onto the global agenda.
Sub-article 3 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989:8), Article 28 which underlines the child’s right to education, states that countries must cooperate with other countries to avoid neglect of education and illiteracy and assist each other in the use of modern technologies and recent teaching methodologies. It also mentions that the needs of the developing countries should be prioritised. This clearly shows that countries should work together for the successful implementation of inclusion with special emphasis on developing countries where children have less access to education. By doing so, the countries have to cooperate for realisation of inclusive education in which visually-impaired learners are benefited.
On the other hand, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (UN, 1993), Rule 6, puts its stand against segregation as follows:
States should recognize the principle of equal primary, secondary and tertiary educational opportunities for children, youth and adults with disabilities, in integrated settings. They should ensure that the education of persons with disabilities is an integral part of the educational system.
Nevertheless, this has failed to argue for inclusion. In light of this, the UNESCO Salamanca Statement (1994:11) says that the emphasis of social policy for the last twenty years was on promoting integration and social participation, but more clearly, the UNESCO Salamanca Statement (1994:11) has argued against not only segregation but also integration. It says that inclusion and participation are crucial for the effective practice of human rights. It has emphasised the close link between the medical integration and the evolving social model of disability. It has argued that children with disabilities have faced many difficulties because of the rigidity of educational policies and practices not because of their disabilities or because of where they are located. Likewise, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006) argued to consider inclusive education as a means of struggle against any kind of discrimination.
CHAPTER 1: AN INTRODUCTORY ORIENTATION
1.2 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.3 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
1.5 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.6 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
1.7 MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
1.8 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.9 DEFINITION OF CONCEPTS
1.10 CHAPTER OUTLINE
CHAPTER 2: THE INCLUSION OF VISUALLY-IMPAIRED LEARNERS IN SCHOOLS
2.2 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
2.3 THE NATURE OF SCHOOL INCLUSIVITY FOR THE VISUALLY-IMPAIRED LEARNERS IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS
2.4 TEACHING LEARNERS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT IN INCLUSIVE SETTINGS
2.5 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 3: THE BARRIERS TO THE INCLUSION OF VISUALLY-IMPAIRED LEARNERS
3.2 BARRIERS WHICH HINDER THE INCLUSION OF LEARNERS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT
3.3 THE STRATEGIES THAT CAN BE USED TO REALISE THE INCLUSION OF VISUALLY-IMPAIRED LEARNERS
3.4 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
4.2 RESEARCH PARADIGM, METHODOLOGY AND DESIGN
4.3 RESEARCH SETTING, POPULATION AND SAMPLING
4.4 THE DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE
4.5 MEASURES TO ENSURE TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER 5: DATA PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
5.2 THE SCHOOLS SETTINGS
5.3 INTERVIEW RESULTS
5.4 FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION RESULTS
5.5 OBSERVATION RESULTS
5.6 QUESTIONNAIRE RESULTS
CHAPTER 6: LITERATURE REVIEW SUMMARY, SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
6.2 LITERATURE REVIEW SUMMARY
6.3 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
6.6 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
6.7 CONTRIBUTION TO KNOWLEDGE
6.8 DELIMITATION AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
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