Inclusive Approach to Education for Children With Disabilities: Evidence From BRAC's Practices in Bangladesh

Inclusive Approach to Education for Children With Disabilities: Evidence From BRAC's Practices in Bangladesh

Shekh Farid (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Dhaka, Bangladesh) and Mamata Mostari (Islamic University, Kushtia, Bangladesh)
DOI: 10.4018/IJTEPD.2020010108

Abstract

BRAC, a leading international development organization, has been working to ensure the rights of persons with disabilities to education through its inclusive education program. This article discusses the BRAC approach in Bangladesh and aims to identify its strategies that are effective in facilitating inclusion. It employed a qualitative research approach where data were collected from students with disabilities, their parents, and BRAC's teachers and staffs using qualitative data collection techniques. The results show that the disability-inclusive policy and all other activities are strongly monitored by a separate unit under BRAC Education Program (BEP). It mainly focuses on sensitizing its teachers and staff to the issue through training, discussing the issue in all meetings and ensuring effective use of a working manual developed by the unit. Group-based learning and involving them in income generating activities were also effective. The findings of the study would be useful for policy makers and other national and international organizations that are working on the issue.
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1. Introduction

Over the last few decades, inclusive education has gained attention in academic and development discourse and has become a global development agenda to ensure equity in education for all, irrespective of their abilities or socio-economic status. Inclusive education is widely desirable because of its social and educational benefits (UNESCO, 2017) and cost-effectiveness comparing to special education (WHO & World Bank, 2011). Moreover, excluding any section of our society from education and employment also has high social and economic cost (WHO & World Bank, 2011). Inclusive education, as defined by UNESCO (2009a), is a “process aimed to offering quality education for all while respecting diversity and different needs and abilities, characteristics, and learning expectations of the students and communities eliminating all forms of discrimination” (p. 18). One of the primary conditions of inclusive education is that students, regardless of their abilities, should be educated in general education system in their respective districts (Grönlund, Lim & Larsson 2010). Inclusive education, particularly for persons with disabilities, requires that schools should accommodate all persons, regardless of their impairments, with special focus on those who need special care (Rieser, 2008). The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes the right of all children with disabilities to be included in general education (UN, 2007). The Sustainable Development Goal 4 also calls for ‘inclusive and quality education for all.’ It seeks to ensure equal access for the persons with disabilities to all levels of education and vocational training, and to upgrade disability-sensitive education facilities by 2030. Since inclusive and quality education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 4) and a means for achieving all other goals, it is desired that countries would take initiative to ensure inclusive education in their countries (UNESCO, 2017). Besides, social justice can never be achieved keeping any segment out of education because of their race, gender, social class or abilities (Ryan, 2006).

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