Social and educational inclusion in Taiwan in relation to elementary Schooling with reference to the UK, particularly Scotland.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Inclusive education, a relatively new education system, provides an environment for both non-disabled and disabled children to interact and to understand each other. The purpose of this study was to investigate relevant key stakeholders’ voices and opinions by means of interviews, observations, focus groups and parental surveys. It started from providing a general background of Taiwan’s history and education to the investigating of current implementation of social policies and primary inclusive education in Taiwan. In conducting the study, an investigation into inclusive education in Taiwan was undertaken, specifically the implementation of inclusive education in primary schools in Tainan region.
This study obtained a great deal of information from a wide range of stakeholders: perspectives on inclusive policies were obtained by means of interviews. Non-disabled and disabled children’s daily school life and interactions among other children and teachers were recorded via observations and focus groups whilst data gathered through parental questionnaires provided parents’ opinions, reactions and responses.
Starting from the pursuit of human rights in Western societies, the focus then shifted to the context of Taiwanese society. More and more attention on the issue of human rights and disadvantaged groups’ rights are paid and in general, the notion of all human beings are equal is rooted and sprouted in Taiwanese culture.
The results showed that, in general, professionals believed that inclusive education was basically positive for both non-disabled and disabled children. Inclusive settings provide an environment for both non-disabled and disabled children to share their experiences so that when children grow up, they would have positive attitudes towards each other. However, some professionals were concerned about the consequences of locating disabled pupils, especially pupils with behavioural disorders, in mainstream schools. In most cases, pupils with physical impairments are more easily accepted than those with behavioural disorder ones. It is still not easy to break the barriers, such as people’s inherent notions towards disadvantaged groups, the reality that some behavioural disorder pupils are aggressive and teachers’ time might be spent more on special need pupils, in such a complicated social system.
With regard to learning in inclusive settings; both non-disabled and disabled pupils, in general, felt comfortable or did not feel too much difference in the inclusive classroom. The study highlighted that, in most inclusive classrooms, both non-disabled and disabled pupils could be accepted by each other; and in some cases, non-disabled and disabled pupils liked to be located in the inclusive classroom.
Parents, however, had more diverse opinions than in any other stakeholders. Inclusive education, though less than half of total respondents had heard before, was deemed basically good to both non-disabled and disabled pupils and in general, it will become future mainstream. Still, some parents, especially those whose children had been located in an inclusive classroom and had bad experiences, were strongly anti-inclusion. Their primary concern was to protect their own children. Quality of education was also their concern because some parents deeply believed that teachers’ time and attention are sometimes drawn to pupils with special educational needs.
In conclusion, key stakeholders viewed inclusive education as a means of providing an environment for both non-disabled and disabled pupils to study and to share their experiences. There may however, be a need to re-think the real role of inclusive classroom because many people merely think of locating both non-disabled and disabled pupils in the same environment as inclusion instead of thinking the moral issue or equality for all when they hear about the term inclusion. This study investigated what key stakeholders’ opinions and responses were when discussing about inclusion. This study also concluded by suggesting and offering some of the main issues needing further consideration: issues related to the resources, shifting people’s impression towards disadvantaged groups and the paramount aim of inclusion. All of which are considered to be important for future implementation of inclusive education.
The study concludes by a reflection on the findings in a broader context of Chinese thinking and addresses current Taiwanese education system with reference to Taiwanese culture.
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