Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Comparison of Teachers' Attitudes towards Inclusive Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union

Academic journal article The Journal of Special Education and Rehabilitation

Comparison of Teachers' Attitudes towards Inclusive Education in Bosnia and Herzegovina and European Union

Article excerpt

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Abstract

The goal of this study is to compare the attitudes of teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) and teachers from five European Union (EU) countries (Austria, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia and Germany) towards the inclusive education of students with special educational needs. The sample for this study is comprised of 110 teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina and 110 teachers from EU. The attitudes were examined by using a questionnaire that was adapted from the Index for inclusion. The final interview protocol consisted 20 questions, which had an excellent internal consistency, Cronbach's alpha of 0.98. A Chi square test was performed to test the differences in attitudes. The results of this study indicated highly positive attitudes towards inclusive education of EU teachers and positive attitudes of BIH teachers. EU teachers had more favourable attitudes than teachers in BIH on 18 of 20 questionnaire items.

These findings were discussed in the light of previous BIH and international researches. The paper ends with a discussion for the challenges and possibilities for improvement of the inclusive education in BIH.

Keywords:Inclusive Education, Special Educational Needs, Attitudes, Teachers

Introduction

Inclusive education is the educational imperative worldwide and has been set as an important target of educational reforms in many countries. Inclusive education as an idea was launched in the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action and refers to a form of schooling in which the support required by a child with special educational needs (SEN) is brought into the mainstream classroom in order to ensure effective education (1). This trend towards inclusive education is supported by a number of international legal documents, most notably by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (2). Article 24 of the Convention explicitly requires from the states to ensure inclusive education system at all levels, but there are still enormous difficulties in the provision of inclusive education among many countries. In many countries, students with SEN are still being educated in separate schools, and more and more schools are accepting the challenge of teaching students with special needs as much as possible within the regular classroom context (3).

Ideologically, integration and mainstreaming has been replaced by the inclusion movement (4), while integration was more or less based on the idea that the child needs to be ready for being placed in a regular classroom, the inclusion puts pressure on the children's right to be educated among a peer group and the school needs to be ready to serve everyone with or without disabilities. However, both of these concepts are often used interchangeably when discussing the education of pupils with SEN in a regular classroom.

Inclusion in the EU has become a regular practice and there is evidence that different inclusive practices are successful (5). Teachers are seen as key persons for implementation of inclusive education. Positive attitudes are therefore considered to play a significant role in successful implementation of this educational change (6). Much of the research conducted in EU countries found that teachers hold positive attitudes towards inclusion of students with special educational needs in regular schools (7, 8) and they possess the knowledge and strategies for effective teaching of all children (9). They suggest that education experts should stop focusing only on deficits and shift to the possibilities and the abilities, identification and utilisation of the individual's strengths, encouraging the factors that can lead to a successful life and career. Slightly positive attitudes of teachers towards inclusion are also noted in BIH (10). In contrast, more recent reviews of 26 studies (6) show that the majority of teachers hold neutral or negative attitudes towards the inclusion of students with special needs in regular primary education, where training, experience with inclusive education, and pupils' types of disability were reported to be related to teachers' attitudes. …

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