Inclusive Education for Learners with Special Educational Needs in Botswana: Voices of Special Educators

Inclusive Education for Learners with Special Educational Needs in Botswana: Voices of Special Educators

Sourav Mukhopadhyay University of Botswana



The purpose of this study was to describe the roles and responsibilities of the special education teachers, and challenges they encounter in supporting the inclusion of learners with special educational needs (SEN) in regular primary schools of the south central regions of Botswana. Thirty-eight Senior Teacher Advisors Learning Disabilities (STALDs) were selected using purposive sampling and data were collected through in-depth interviews. Results revealed that most of the STALDs in primary schools in Botswana were not trained in the area of special education and the roles and responsibilities of STALDs were not clearly defined. At the same time, STALDs were concerned about training, planning time, and lack of resources as the predominant barriers for meeting the needs of all students and implementation of inclusive education in Botswana primary schools. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of this research for continuous professional development and future practice of inclusive education in Botswana.


During the past decade, inclusive education emerged

as a major contentious topic in the educational discourses. Inclusive education is based on the principles of social justice, equity and diversity; it is also focused on enhancing quality education for all learners (Ainscow, Booth, & Dyson, 2006a). However, there are multiple interpretations of the concept of inclusive education. Ainscow, Booth, and Dyson, (2006b) developed a typology of six ways of thinking about inclusive education. They are:

(a) inclusion as a concern with students with disabilities and others categorized as ‘having special education needs’, (b) inclusion as a response to disciplinary exclusion, (c) inclusion in relation to all groups seen as being vulnerable to exclusion, (d) inclusion as developing the school for all, (e) inclusion as education for all, and (f) inclusion as a principled approach to education and society. (p.15)

Policy-makers in developing countries have embraced the concept of inclusive education as a strategy to realize Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) agendas in a cost-effective manner (Peters, 2007). Although, inclusive education is a global policy aspiration, its’ implementation is context specific. The focus of this paper is on the education system of Botswana.

The Education System in Botswana

Located in the center of southern Africa, Botswana is a large landlocked country with a sparse population of just over 2 million people. Botswana, a former British colony, attained its political independence on September 30, 1966. Like most of its fellow commonwealth countries, the country also inherited the British education system which did not promote education for all, but only for those who could afford. This scenario however, changed with the discovery of diamond mines in the 1970s.

At the time of its independence Botswana only had 251 primary schools, 1,624 teachers and only 20% of school age children were enrolled in primary school (Government of Botswana, 2006). Botswana’s healthy economy, careful governance and substantial allocation of the annual budget (one fifth) to the education sector increased the number of schools and enhanced the enrolment rate for primary schools. In 2006, there were 770 primary schools with an enrolment of 330,417 students and 13,012 trained teachers. Compared to other developing countries, primary schools in Botswana are relatively well supplied in terms of resources (Dart, Nthobatsang, Korwa & Chizwe, 2010). As a result, in the years 2007-2009 the net enrolment ratio for learners in primary school increased. Currently, the literacy rate for males is 94% and 97% for males and females (Unicef, 2009).

The first National Policy on Education (NPE) was developed in 1977. The focus of this policy was on enhancing access to education (Government of Botswana, 1977) and to produce skilled labor to support industry and various government institutions. The Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) of 1994

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emphasized ten years of basic education (Government of Botswana, 1994) which comprised of seven years of primary education followed by a three year junior certificate program. Although Botswana made tremendous progress in education, education for learners with disabilities did not receive adequate attention.

Educational Provision for Learners with Disabilities Like many developing countries, initially the

education of learners with SENs was in the hands of missionaries and it was mostly institution based. Although the Government of Botswana was aware of the need for education of learners with SENs very little was done to enforce it (Government of Botswana, 1993). This issue was addressed in the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) (Government of Botswana, 1994). The policy specifically highlighted the educational provisions for all children and young people including those with disabilities (Government of Botswana, 1994). The RNPE recommended equal educational opportunities for learners with SENs in integrated settings and simultaneously recommended a post of responsibility to help learners with SENs in every primary school; therefore, the position of STALDs was created.

Botswana, being a signatory to various international conventions, is committed to achieving education for all and MDG. Therefore, the country identified inclusive education as a strategy to realize these agendas in a cost- effective manner (Government of Botswana, 2008; McBride, 2010). In 2011, the government of Botswana developed a comprehensive policy on inclusive education (Government of Botswana, 2011) which is currently being implemented. The goals of the policy are:

All learners will complete their basic

education and progress, where possible, to senior secondary or tertiary education or to vocational training.

Teachers will have the skills and resources to enable children of different abilities to learn effectively.

Out of school education programs will be further developed and strengthened to ensure the inclusion in education and skills development of those children, young people, and adults whose needs cannot be met in the formal system.

Schools will be supportive and have humane establishments which embrace and support all their learners and value their achievements, so

that children will attend school regularly and work hard at their studies.

All relevant Governmental, Non- governmental, and private organizations will work in harmony to develop and maintain an inclusive education system in Botswana. (Government of Botswana, 2011, p. 4)

This policy initiative is going to influence the inclusion of learners with SENs in Botswana’s education system. It is expected that more learners with SENs will be included in regular primary schools. Therefore, STALDs have to play a major role in the inclusion of these learners into mainstream schools as the classrooms are going to be more diverse than before. As such, general and special education teachers need to collaborate and provide instruction for students with SENs in the regular classrooms. However, the roles and responsibilities of STALDs are not clearly defined. Therefore, this study was initiated to understand the current roles and responsibilities of STALDs and the challenges they encounter in supporting inclusion of learners with SEN in regular primary schools in the south central region of Botswana.

Roles and Responsibilities of Special Educators in Inclusive Education

Special educators play a critical role in the

successful inclusion of learners with SENs in the general curriculum. General educators and special educators need to collaborate to cater to the needs of learners with diverse learning needs (Eisenman, Pleet, Wandry, & McGinley, 2011). Giangreco, Cater, Doyle and Suter (2010) noted that irrespective of settings, special educators are responsible for ‘assessment, collaboration with team members, case management, service coordination, instruction, data collection, communication and working with families, positive behavior supports, and transition planning’ (p. 252). Therefore, special educators are encouraged to apply differentiated instruction, specialized skills, and strategies to facilitate the teaching and learning process so that learners with and without SENs can learn together (Jorgensen, Shuh, & Nisbet, 2006; Thousand, Villa, & Nevin, 2007). Unfortunately, most special educators currently working in inclusive classrooms may not have adequate knowledge and skills to function effectively in the inclusive environment (Mukhopadhyay, 2009). Based on an extensive review of literature, Giangreco et al. (2010) recommended various roles or responsibilities of special education for the successful implementation of inclusive education.

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They are: Special educators should apply creative

problem-solving principles to support class- teachers, learners and their families’ collaborative efforts

Work with classroom teachers to adapt and modify curriculum and instruction in ways that facilitate participation of students with disabilities in typical class activities.

Support inclusive classrooms by providing instruction in a variety of formats such as co- teaching with the classroom teacher, teaching small mixed-ability groups, or individual tutoring.

Facilitate interactions between peers with and without disabilities. This occurs through the combined efforts to teach students with disabilities pro-social behaviours, apply positive behaviour supports, and teach students without disabilities how to interact with their classmates who have learning differences,

Co-directing the work of teacher assistants along with classroom teachers and supervise the work of teacher assistants. (Giangreco et al., 2010, pp. 25-253)

The roles of special educators in inclusive classrooms will continue to evolve and enhance both access and quality of education for learners with SENs in inclusive learning environments. The aim of this study was to gain in-depth understanding of the experiences of STALDs in including learners with SENs in their schools and their roles and responsibilities in Botswana primary schools.


Research Design

This qualitative study was conducted within the

phenomenological-constructive paradigm which captures multiple realities to understand a phenomenon (Guba & Lincoln, 2005). Qualitative methodology was selected for this investigation because of its unique suitability in meeting the purpose of this research, i.e., to hear the voices of STALDs. Miles and Huberman (1994) identified the strengths of qualitative research as: (a) it occurs in natural settings, (b) allows for holistic, rich, and complex findings, and (c) focuses on the living experiences of participants. By employing qualitative methodology, the researcher was able to gain an insight about the complexity and underlying issues of practice

of inclusion of learners with disabilities in Botswana primary schools.


Thirty-eight STALDs from 165 primary schools in the South Central region of Botswana were selected using purposive sampling. These participants were selected because at the time of the study, all the participants were responsible in supporting learners with disabilities in mainstream educational settings. Table 1 displays the demographic information of the participants.

Table 1

Participants’ Demographics


Number (%)


Female 33 (87%) Male 5 (13%)

Age Range 26-30 2 (5%) 31-35 2 (5%) 36-40 19 (50%) > 40 years 15(40%)

Location of the school Urban 10 (26%) Semi-Urban 14 (37%) Rural 14 (37%)

Teaching Experiences 6-10 years 16 (16%) 11-15 years 18 (18%)

16-20 years 29 (29%)

>20 years 42 (42%) Grade Level / Class Taught

Lower 18 (47%) Mid 14 (37%) Upper 06 (16%)

Level of Education PTC 06 (16%) Diploma Primary Ed 14 (38%) Diploma Sped 10 (26%) BEd Sped 01 (2%) BEd PriEd 07 (18%)

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Data Collection Procedure Following informed consent and reassurance of confidentiality and anonymity, data were collected through in-depth semi-structured individual interviews. Interviews included a brief questionnaire comprising socio-demographic items, and an interview guide based upon the research topics. The guide was constructed based on a review of literature and feedback of mini focus group discussions with in-service student teachers. The interviews dealt with the following areas: (a) inclusive education; (b) their roles and responsibilities (c) benefits of inclusion; (d) the level of knowledge and skills of the STALDs in regards to inclusion; and (e) barriers of successful inclusion and (f) training needs. The interviews lasted between 45 and 60 minutes each. Interviews were audio-taped and transcribed using MS Word 2010. Later on each interview document was assigned as primary documents of the Hermeneutic Unit of AtlasTI 5.5, qualitative data analysis software.

Data Analysis

A four-stage inductive analysis procedure was used. In the first stage, the researcher performed a meticulous reading of the interviews to familiarize themself thoroughly with the transcript content. In the second stage, the researcher identified, classified, organized, and encoded sections of the interview that were identified as ‘units of meaning’ (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) consistent with inclusive education. The initial coding included the unique aspects of personal functioning as STALDs with the learners with SENs and everyday interactions with these learners. In this way the researcher was able to gather the holistic picture of the roles and responsibilities of special educators. In the third stage of the analysis, the researcher focused on integration and synthesis of similar units of meaning identified for each theme (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). The themes were challenges in supporting learners with disabilities and the attitude of general teachers. In the fourth stage of analysis, researchers compared the themes and drew connections between them to gain a holistic picture.


The 38 teachers interviewed for this research

provided rich, descriptive, and insightful responses about their personal perceptions of teaching learners with SENs and their experiences as teaching professionals in Botswana. The interview responses were diverse in content and scope. Because the interview questions were open-ended, the teachers stated their personal thoughts regarding supporting learners with SENs. Analysis of

their experiences regarding inclusion of learners with SENs in regular schools yielded four major themes: (a) conceptualization of inclusive education, (b) roles and responsibilities of STALDs, (c) barriers of inclusive education, and (d) professional developments.

Special Education Teachers’ Conceptualization of Inclusive Education

Fourteen participants noted that they were familiar

with the concept of inclusive education. However, most of them could not differentiate between integration and inclusion, and instead used the terminology interchangeably. Interestingly, most respondents interpreted inclusive education as ‘integrating learners with and without disabilities in regular schools.’ Some respondents reported having difficulty in defining inclusive education, while others reported misconceptions about inclusive education, such as ‘inclusive education being the same as special education’, and inclusive education as being ‘one of the components of special education.’ A few STALDs, however, indicated their concerns about inclusion of learners with SENs in their schools with comments such as this:

…full-inclusion would not benefit all learners. For example, learners with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities may not benefit from full inclusion; as these learners required special educators to meet their special needs. They also needed more resources to intervene and regular classrooms lacked resources. (urban-trained)

Special Education Teachers’ Support of Inclusive


The second theme that emerged was the STALDs’ support of inclusion of learners with SENs in regular schools. It was interesting to find that most of the participants supported an integrated model rather than a full inclusion model, whereas only a few participants supported the idea of full inclusion. Their reason statements revealed that:

I don’t mind having students with disabilities in my school, but it would be better if these learners are placed in special classes rather than in regular classrooms. If you place them in regular classrooms, it would be a disadvantage to students with disabilities. (rural-trained) Full inclusion is neither productive nor effective for both learners with and without disabilities for

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the entire school day. Learners with disabilities need separate and self-contained classrooms. (rural-untrained)

These sentiments were echoed by other respondents, who stated that, ‘as teachers, we have to support both learners with and without SENs, but we are not clear about our other responsibilities apart from teaching’. Other responses included fear of greater workload, as well as increased difficulty in managing the classroom environment. Additional concerns leading to opposition to full inclusion included the insufficiency of schools’ resources and limited support from the government. Since inclusive education is a new concept in Botswana, and the STALDs are not trained, these fears may originate from a lack of understanding of inclusive education.

In choosing which type of learners with SENs would be most suitable for studying in mainstream schools, most of the participants believed that students with learning difficulties and physical disabilities were capable of studying in mainstream schools. Learners with sensory impairments were the least preferred group by the participants and these apprehensions could be attributed to lack of training in Sign Language and Braille. Only a few believed that a full inclusion model will be successful in Botswana

Special Educators’ Perceptions on the Benefits of Inclusive Education

It emerged from the data that some STALDs

expressed satisfaction about the benefits of inclusive education. Five most frequent sub-themes that emerged from the data were: (a) acceptance; (b) equal opportunities; (c) cost-related issues; (d) development of skills and knowledge; and (e) favorable attitudes. Generally, STALDs took philosophical standpoints and moral positions in their statements. They viewed inclusive education as a launching pad for promoting ‘values like tolerance, acceptance, and respect for the society’ and ‘valuing human differences’. One participant succinctly said ‘inclusive education will develop love and acceptance towards each other to build a caring and compassionate nation that value prosperity for all.’ The inclusion of learners with disabilities was an ‘eye-opening’ experience for some STALDs. One of them said:

We have included a learner with a hearing impairment in our school. I encouraged other learners to learn sign language. I was very happy to observe that learners were interacting and helping each other and learnt sign language.

I think it’s been an eye-opening experience for me. (urban-untrained)

STALDs were of the opinion that the immediate benefit of inclusive education was peer interactions and acceptance.

The Roles and Responsibilities of Special Education Teachers

During the interviews, STALDs felt enthusiastic and

optimistic about the inclusion of learners with SENs in their schools, and that they could improve their classroom practice through ‘shared vision’:

Firstly … I think … with us, we need to change our mind-set … everyone is talking about inclusive education, but no one is sure what is inclusion education? Is it alternate to special education? … It’s important for everybody talking openly to see … how it would … benefit the school, children, family and community, particularly learners with disabilities. … Maybe it’s the right path … and without the shared vision … a collective vision, then I don’t think it would take us anywhere. (rural, untrained)

STALDs talked about the importance of training and job descriptions. These teachers likened their experiences to an uncomfortable working environment. One of the STALDs lamented the job descriptions. While describing the current practice she stated:

I am not sure about what am I supposed to do, if my responsibility is to support learners with disabilities, then I should not be given any other class. I have my class on top it I have to support other teachers and students. Moreover, I am not trained in that area. (urban-untrained)

The processes of collaboration and discussion with stakeholders were not practiced in every school. One of the teachers, who was trained in special education, explained:

It was very unusual for us to collaborate with teachers and hear from others. Regular teachers think I am supposed to pull-out children with disabilities outside the classroom and provide remediation in teaching Mathematics, English and other school subjects. In actual fact, I am supposed to help learners with disabilities learners within the classroom. (urban-trained)

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The unsettling effect of the sharing of experiences initiated debate about the roles and responsibilities of STALDs. One of them said:

The roles and responsibilities of STALDs in regular schools are not clearly defined, the school- head has no idea and she thinks I am like any other teacher whereas class-teachers think I am a specialist. I am in a serious dilemma. (rural- trained)

Barriers to the Implementation of Inclusive Education

School-Related Barriers. STALDs often complained

about inadequate infrastructure and resources. They complained about the lack of classrooms, inadequate structural modifications such as ramps and assisted toilets, as well as adaptive furniture and instructional materials. One of them said:

We don’t have enough classrooms, assisted toilets and special furniture. These are necessary for our students particularly those who use wheelchairs; they can’t move freely. The classrooms are small and often overcrowded. (urban-untrained)

On the issue of availability of support services STALDs were highly disgruntled about the service delivery. One of the participants lamented the lack of support service facilities:

Psycho-educational assessment and intervention, speech language services and occupational therapy are essential for the successful inclusion of learners with SENs. There is only one assessment and intervention center in Botswana to cater for a large number of learners with disabilities. (urban-trained)

Another participant who was also trained was very clear about professional collaboration. She said:

Professionals such as speech therapists, occupational therapist and other have never visited the school and work with us. We refer our children for assessment and they send us report and we keep a copy of the report. We never get the opportunity to discuss or collaborate; I think based on the assessment the professionals should collaborate and train us intervention strategies. We cannot work alone. Our school has an intervention team; it exists only on paper, without the support of other professionals the school intervention can’t function. (urban-trained)

One of the teachers commented that she never received any detailed assessment information about the abilities, needs, educational background, or current educational goals of a student who came into her class from another institution:

We’ve never seen any detailed report about any child before admission. We wouldn’t know how to teach a learner with disabilities without proper intervention plan. Moreover, we get students anytime during the term; I am I going to teach that student. (rural-trained)

The participants were concerned about the lack of parental support in the teaching–learning process. Some STALDs also indicated that parents did not cooperate and students did not do their homework because parents did not help their children at home. The STALDs further voiced their disappointment and dissatisfaction about the general lack of parental involvement and interest in their school, and said the following about parental involvement:

The parental involvement… it’s almost non- existent… as if the parents are happy to see their children off to the school. They just dump their children. (rural-untrained)

Interestingly, most of the primary schools in the south central region had Parent Teachers Associations (PTA) and School Intervention Teams (SIT), which existed to encourage parents’ involvement and support. Unfortunately, parental support was minimal in most of the schools. In some situations, SIT appeared only on paper but not in practice, while these were supposed to be structures which should involve parents of learners with SENs.

STALDs Related Barriers. Participants also identified the following barriers related to themselves as STALDs: (a) limited knowledge and skills; (b) time constraints resulting in inadequate planning and preparation; and (c) teacher “burnout.” STALDs described their lack of knowledge and skills related to lack of in-service training facilities. Similarly, others stated their concern about the time required to learn how to apply classroom accommodation strategies. They commented that additional time was required to complete necessary training on inclusive education. The STALDs also complained about the workload and high student teacher ratio. One of them said:

Although I am promoted as STALDs, I have my own class and on top of it I need to support other teachers. Right now I am teaching 176 children

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“because we are simultaneously experiment subject specializations”; four of them have hearing impairment and rest without any disabilities. I am teaching Social Studies for the whole school. I am failing to provide adequate services to learners with disabilities. (urban- trained)

Participants also felt that large class-size and piloting of subject specialization compromised service delivery in primary schools. One of the participants succinctly summarized how service delivery was affected. She said:

I think STALDs should not be given any classes. We spend a lot of time teaching content; therefore, do not have time to collaborate with teachers, professionals and parents. I am failing both as a teacher and as STALDs. (urban-trained)

Another added that STALDs would ‘burnout” if something was not done about the teacher- student ratio. She mentioned that, ‘some of us will be forced to leave the job.’

Need for Professional Development

It is important to underscore that, only fourteen interviewees reported that they had participated in in- service training while the majority attended only one training workshop/ seminar. Nevertheless, more than half of the respondents believed that they need specific training on inclusive education in order to perform their job more effectively. Training needs of STALDs were illustrated in the following comment:

I think all teachers need to be knowledgeable about children with disabilities. This is possible by allowing them to attend training. If I am the only person who receives training, then I am the only one who gains knowledge (whatever limited it may be), someday I might not be here, so teachers should have some knowledge and how to deal with them. Right now, whoever deals with students with disabilities is one that takes responsibility; I think inclusive education could only be successful if all of us take the responsibilities of teaching students with disabilities. (urban-untrained)

In addition, some respondents also identified specific types of special-education needs that they wanted to understand more. It is encouraging to note that many respondents have thought of obtaining additional training in inclusive education, and that they are: (a)

adapting curriculum, (b) adapting materials, (c) managing behavior problems, (d) communicating and working with a parent, (e) developing IEPs, (f) adapting technologies, (g) collaborating with team members, and (h) giving individual attention.


The main finding from this study suggested that most

STALDs in Botswana did not have a clear understanding of the concept of inclusive education, and of their roles or responsibilities in inclusive classrooms. This finding is in agreement with the study done by Fisher, Frey and Thousand (2003). Although Hoover and Patton (2008) outlined the roles and responsibilities of special educators in inclusive classrooms, Fisher et al. (2003) asserted that these were more at a ‘conceptual level’ that lacked empirical evidence. As stated earlier, Giangreco et al. (2010) recommended that special educators should be involved in assessment, collaboration with team members, case management, service coordination, instruction, data collection, communication and working with families, positive behavior supports, and transition planning. Unfortunately, during the interviews, participants of the current study never mentioned these activities as essential components of their services. Since inclusive education is a relatively new practice in Botswana and most of the participants were not formally trained in special education, these findings were expected (Mukhopadhyay, 2009).

Interestingly, participants in this study supported the idea of inclusion of learners with SENs in regular school more at a philosophical level, but they preferred learners with mild disabilities as opposed to learners with severe to profound disabilities. These STALDs were of the opinion that such learners lacked the skills needed to cope with regular classroom curriculum; therefore, special schools/units options should be used. This finding is in agreement with the study carried out by Gaad and Khan (2007). Participants in that study preferred to include learners with learning disabilities. This finding also indicated that special educators of Botswana operate within the deficit-driven approach (Kluth, 2005; Rea, McLaughlin, & Walther-Thomas, 2002), rather than the right-based approach. Hence, they preferred special units for learners with intellectual disabilities.

Participants of this study were highly concerned with the lack of support and availability of resources in primary schools. Specifically, they indicated that there was lack of appropriate instructional materials needed for learners with SENs. In addition, they regretted the insufficient time available for collaboration and consulting with other teachers, parents, and professionals

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in order to meet the learning needs of various students with disabilities. Findings of this study are quite similar to earlier studies carried-out in Botswana (Chhabra, Srivastava & Srivastava, 2010; Dart et al. 2010; Kuyini & Mangope, 2011; Mukhopadhyay, 2009). Mukhopadhyay reported that general education teachers and school-heads were also concerned about inadequate resources and funding to support students with disabilities in regular classrooms. These findings have been corroborated by other studies in developing countries (Alur, 2001; Singal, 2005, 2006; Johnstone & Chapman, 2009), which expressed concern about the dearth of resources as one of the challenges affecting the successful implementation of inclusive education programs. Given the fact that there is a dearth of resources required for successful implementation of inclusive education in developing countries, teachers and special educators should be trained to be creative and innovative so that they can produce indigenous instructional materials with local resources, and adapt them to suit the needs of learners with disabilities. This can be achieved through in-service training, possibly in conjunction with teacher-training institutions.

A majority of the participants reported that they were not formally trained in special education, therefore, were highly enthusiastic in receiving additional training. Currently, some of them were unable to participate in the training due to heavy workload commitments. On a positive note, the findings of this study may prove very useful in guiding efforts for educational practitioners and government agencies to implement inclusive education. It was interesting to find that the opinions of both untrained and trained special educators were almost similar and that the locations of schools did not have any influence on teachers’ perceptions.

Recommendations and Conclusion

The purpose of this study was to explore the STALDs

beliefs and practices of inclusive education in the South Central Region of Botswana. Although learners with disabilities are already placed in regular schools in Botswana, the services offered to them are highly fragmented. STALDs were concerned with the lack of support and non-availability of resources in primary schools. In addition, they lamented the insufficient time available for collaboration and consulting with other teachers, parents, and professionals to meet the diverse learning needs of students with disabilities. The findings reflect the pragmatic factors such as limited time, large class-size, heavy workload, existing regulations, insufficient institutional support, which may pose significant barriers to collaboration and successful implementation of inclusion at the primary school level.

Based on the findings of this research, it is recommended that the Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoSED) in collaboration with teacher training institutes organize regular professional development programs for STALDs. However, it is important to underscore that short (one-two days) in- service training workshops or seminars alone rarely result in change in teacher behavior (Kaikkonen, 2010). Therefore, multiple components of professional development which include training, implementation guides, classroom materials, instructional coaching, and performance feedback could be used for STALDs (Fox, Hemmeter, Snyder, Binder & Clarke, 2011). In addition, this professional development should equip STALDs with practical skills on instruction, collaboration, alternative forms of evaluation, classroom management, conflict resolution, scaffolding techniques and curriculum adaptation. In addition, the training workshops should also include visits to resource centers and internships. Since different types of activities can offer different content and insights to the respondents, participants’ exposure to the topic will be significantly enhanced more than with what short seminars (one-two days) can offer. Eisenman et al. (2011) recommended ‘Collaborative Consultative Model’ as an ideal conceptual model for in-service training. One encouraging finding from the current study was that most of the respondents were enthusiastic in furthering their training to enhance service delivery. It, therefore, seems likely that, if adequate time is provided and financial support is available, many STALDs will be motivated to take advantage of such training.


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