Inclusion of students with disabilities : a case study of a private, primary school in an urban city in Southern India
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Significant changes have been observed in educational reforms in the Indian subcontinent over the last two decades. During this time period, educational policies began to be influenced by international developments in education (Hodkinson & Devarakonda, 2011). According to Singal (2006a), the Indian government endorsed the objective of the Salamanca Declaration (UNESCO, 1994), which was to ensure policy changes to “promote the approach of inclusive education, namely enabling schools to serve all children, particularly those with special educational needs”. This time period also marked the beginning of the usage of the term “inclusive education” in educational policies in India; however, a guideline to defining inclusion and actual implementation of inclusion in schools has not yet been realized (Singal & Rouse, 2003). There are few schools implementing inclusion in India; many practices are reflective of those developed and used in schools in developed countries. Inclusive practices developed in schools in Western countries may not suit the needs of schools in the Indian context. This case study was designed to explore how one primary school in India adapted and implemented inclusion. The perceptions and experiences of the principal, teachers and parents regarding inclusion were also explored in the context of inclusive practices of the school. Multiple sources of data collection including in-depth interviews, observations, document review and focus group were used to answer research questions. Data analyses were used to identify themes and categories to answer research questions using techniques identified by Glaser and Strauss (1967). Findings are presented as follows: (1) an introduction to the school, (2) implementation of inclusion in India, and (3) knowledge and perceptions of stakeholders regarding inclusion. Findings indicate that the school practiced a social model of inclusion to suit their needs and based on the availability of resources. Parents of children with disabilities played an important role in implementing inclusion. Goals for inclusion, school and classroom practices, as well as participants’ perceptions regarding inclusion were consistent with their experiences and implementation of social inclusion. Participants’ had mostly positive perceptions, but expressed some limitations about inclusion. Implications for future research, practice and policy are also discussed.