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Title: Teachers' and Parents' perspectives towards including "slow learners" in mainstream schools in Kuwait
Author(s): Alenezi, Nouf
Supervisor(s): Watson, Cate
Keywords: inclusive education
slow learners
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This qualitative research inquiry explores the perspectives of a diverse range of participants, namely head teachers, teachers and mothers, towards inclusion of "slow learners" in two primary mainstream schools in the State of Kuwait. The concept of inclusion, through a review of major issues and limitations in the current practice of inclusion is highlighted by this case study. A multi-method data collection approach, using semi-structured interviews and critical discourse analysis of the policy document for inclusion in Kuwait, has led to identifying what has been done, so far in practice, for inclusion, as well as identifying the potential changes that need to be made. Kuwait is a signatory to the UNESCO Salamanca Statement, set out in 1994, which requires states to move towards systems "enabling schools to serve all children". However, to date, "inclusion" in Kuwaiti mainstream schools is limited to two groups of children: those with Down's Syndrome and those referred to as "slow learners", a term used to describe certain children with low IQ. All other children with special educational needs are educated in segregated settings. This study examines policy and explores participants' perspectives towards the inclusion of children identified as "slow learners" in primary mainstream schools in Kuwait, in order to arrive at insights which might further the policy and practice of supporting inclusion of children with special educational needs. This study found that the dominant conceptual model underpinning policy and practice in Kuwait is the "medical model" of disability, as the current understanding and practice of inclusion, teachers' and mothers' perspectives towards inclusion and articulation of the inclusion policy in Kuwait is informed, conceptualized and affected by this model. This understanding lends itself to practices of integration rather than inclusion, However, "the term 'inclusion' replaced 'integration' and is often contrasted with 'exclusion' " (Topping & Maloney, 2005, p.42). Inclusion means equal access and increasing the participation of students with special needs in mainstream school as promoted by the Salamanca Statement (UNESCO,1994), while integration means limited access and less participation of students with special needs in mainstream school, thus integration is "largely a 'disability' or SEN issue" (Topping & Maloney, 2005, p.42). This study also found that perspectives of inclusion are influenced by the social, cultural and religious context of the country. Finally, this study concludes that in the context of Kuwait, there is a clear effect of the cultural understanding of disability on the way that the current policy of inclusive education is represented. Such cultural influence not only affects the policymakers of the region and the way inclusion is implemented, but also it effects "slow learners" in the light of how disability and inclusion are constructed by the head teachers, teachers and mothers in this study. Such cultural and social values and beliefs of Kuwaiti culture pose obstacles to the existence of inclusion in Kuwait, as promoted by the Salamanca Statement. As a signatory to the Salamanca Statement, this study suggests that in order to adequately accommodate "slow learners" and other students with disability in mainstream schools in Kuwait, policy needs to be reconceptualised.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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