Department of Educational Psychology, Sociology and Special Education,
School of Education,
University of Zambia,
Zambia National Education coalition
Design House, Next to Main Post Office,
P.O. Box. 30774, Lusaka, Zambia.
Phone: 0978 882 952
Title: An analysis of Attitudes, Policy and Practice towards inclusive schooling in Zambia.
Early childhood, care, Development and Education has been viewed by many scholars and policy makers to be a conduit to achieving the MDG’s and EFA goals. Despite this view, OSISA, Department of Education- South Africa and UNICEF (2007) report that out of 127 countries who ratified the EFA goals, only 47 have achieved the EFA goals. Of the countries farthest from achieving EFA goals, the majority are in Sub-Saharan Africa and Zambia is of them. Regarding Early Childhood Education, Education For All literary means education for all children regardless of their disabilities. By 2004, there were 200 million children under the age of 8 years world wide and Zambia had 1,477,952 children aged between 3-6 years (Chiwela 2007). These figures obviously should have gone up by now. However, the incidence of early childhood disability in Zambia is unknown due to lack of research on the subject. The Word Health Organisation’s formula estimates of 10% of the child population to have disability shall be used to aid programme planning. Therefore, based on the Word Health Organisation’s projections, it can be deduced that out of 1,477,952 children that have been identified in Zambia, more than 147,795 (10%) children have disabilities and they need access to early childhood care and education. But very few if any of the children with disabilities access early childhood education in Zambia. Several factors intertwine and contribute to this problem.
This paper therefore aims at analysing attitudes, policy and practice and show how they affect achievement of EFA goals in schools. The discourse uses research works done at basic school levels to shed light on the current status at ECCDE level in Zambia. The authors argue that attitudes, policy and practice must be considered as interrelated. There may be good and well meant policies in existent, but what is practiced in schools has a bearing on the attitudes of stakeholders.
It is hoped that through this paper, policy makers, parents, teachers and other stakeholders shall support harmonisation of attitudes, policy and practice on early childhood education in inclusive schools in order for Zambia to achieve the EFA goals. It is further hoped that the 20,000,000 children with disabilities world wide shall benefit from the results of this presentation.
The international community faces among its challenges, exclusion. The number of people, being excluded from meaningful participation in the economic, social, political and cultural lives of their communities, is increasing at a rapid rate (UNESCO 2003). As a global response to exclusion, the international community convened in Salamanca. Among issues addressed was the question of how to enable regular schools to serve all children. The conference endorsed that:
Schools should accommodate all children regardless of their physical, intellectual, social, emotional, linguistic or other conditions. This should include disabled and gifted children, street and working children, children from remote or nomadic populations, children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities and children from other disadvantaged or marginalized areas or groups (UNESCO 1994:6).
The campaign to enable regular schools serve all children was re-emphasised during the Dakar World Educational Conference (2000) and is also reflected in the Millennium Development Goals (2000). The conference resolved that all member states were to provide Education For All (EFA) by 2015 (UNESCO 2000). As a matter of fact, the origins of EFA movement can be traced as far back as 1948, during the universal declarations of human rights which asserted that “every one has a right to education.” This declaration has become the foundation upon which all subsequent international discussions on education are anchored. For instance, the declaration highlighted above was emphasised during the United Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the World Declaration on Education For All (1990), the Standard Rules on the Equalisation of Opportunities for Persons with Disability (1993) and the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action (1994) (Stubbs 2002).
Implicit in these global campaigns for inclusive education is a fundamental shift with respect to ways in which Early childhood Care Development and Education is perceived (ECCDE). ECCDE has been viewed by many scholars and policy makers to be a conduit to achieving the MDG’s and EFA goals.
Within the international community there is evidence of a strong thrust towards the idea of inclusive education. In particular, the United Nations organisations have argued that the principle of Inclusion should be at the centre of educational reforms in order to address the challenges of exclusion. This would suggest that inclusive practices should be embedded within the ECCDE.
3.0 Defining inclusive Education
One may ask, as to what inclusive schooling is all about. Globally, an inclusive school is a place where every pupil regardless of his/her disability belongs, is accepted, supports and is supported by his/her peers and other members of the school community in the course of having his/her educational needs met. In addition, all pupils are expected to be provided with appropriate educational opportunities and resources within the mainstream environment (Ainscow 2005).
Inclusion is concerned with providing appropriate responses to the broad spectrum of learning needs in formal and non-formal educational settings. Rather than being a marginal issue on how some learners can be integrated in mainstream education, inclusive education is an approach that looks into how to transform education systems and other learning environments in order to respond to the diversity of learners. It aims towards enabling teachers and learners both to feel comfortable with diversity and to see it as a challenge and enrichment of the learning environment, rather than a problem. Inclusion emphasizes providing opportunities for equal participation of persons with disabilities (physical, social and/or emotional) whenever possible into general education, but leaves open the possibility of personal choice and options for special assistance and facilities for those who need it (Ainscow 1995 and 2003).
4.0 Analysis of policy
Currently, there is no policy on ECCDE yet in Zambia. However, efforts are being made to ensure that policy is designed. As a matter of fact, various stakeholders have been involved in a designing policy. At least, there is a draft policy on ECCDE which is in its final stage.
Despite this lack of policy, the provision on ECCDE is guided by government statements in MoE policy document “Educating Our Future” (1996).
Some of those government pronouncements include the following:
• Every individual in Zambia has a right to education.
• Hence it is a matter of fairness or justice that access to, and participation and benefit in, the education system be available to all.
• The development of education will therefore seek to promote equality of access, participation and benefit for all in accordance with individual needs and abilities.
• Measures to promote equality will include allocating resources to those in greatest need, providing appropriate support systems, and changing the tangible and intangible qualities of the system itself to cater for the diverse educational needs and interests of the population.
• Concerning policy on inclusive schooling, the Ministry of Education states that, it will ensure equality of educational opportunity for children with special educational needs. It is also committed to providing Education of good quality to pupils with special educational needs.
5.0 Analysis of Practices
Despite the government policy on education (MoE 1996) and its efforts to address challenges of exclusion through the Inclusive Schooling Programme (INSPRO), there is still a problem of a large number (147,795) of children with disabilities not accessing education in schools.
Current practice in schools is not consistent with policy on inclusive schooling & ECCDE
• Large number of children with disabilities not accessing education in schools.
• Inaccessible infrastructure
• Negative attitudes
• Teachers not oriented in Inclusive schooling
• Unfriendly Teaching & Learning materials
(Kasonde-Ngandu & Moberg 2001; Ndhlovu (2007) and Simui and Waliuya (2008)
The current practice in schools however, is not consistent with the government policy on inclusive schooling and ECCDE. As a result, despite the government policy on education (MoE 1996) and its efforts to address challenges of inclusive education through the Inclusive Schooling Programme (INSPRO), there is still a problem of a large number of people with disabilities not accessing education in schools due to various barriers including negative attitude. A study conducted by Ndhlovu (2007) in five schools in Chongwe district, revealed that despite efforts to introduce inclusive education in Zambia, infrastructure was not yet modified to accommodate children with disabilities that were being included in these schools. For example, there were no ramps, no rails along the corridors and no acoustic materials in most schools. Doors in most school buildings did not allow wheel chairs to pass. This made the learning environment somewhat hostile to pupils with disabilities.
Inconsistence between policy & Practice makes the learning environment somewhat hostile to children with disabilities. This situation poses a challenge to inclusive schooling for ECCDE.
6.0 Analysis of attitudes
This section analyses attitudes and how they negatively impact on the implementation of inclusive schooling by using two models namely: Medical and Social models.
6.1 Medical Model
The medical models represent a multitude of people who perceive a ‘child’ with disability as a problem requiring ‘fixing’ to fit within the rigid curriculum. Apparently, the Zambian education system appears to be modelled on the philosophies of the medial model. As highlighted earlier, majority of children with special education needs have no access to specialised services in schools. Instead, they are forced to conform to the unresponsive and rigid education system resulting in massive exclusion. This is true of ECCDE also.
Several studies have revealed that negative attitudes of teachers and adults (parents and other family members) are the major barrier to inclusion; children do not have prejudices unless adults show them. The pupils themselves observed such changes. One of them indicated that, “He was afraid to approach his comrades with intellectual disabilities, because it was said that they were inhabited by spirits and could contaminate you.” Now, he concluded, “I know that is not true. Now, we work and play together and I’ve learned to understand them, to like them and to help them when necessary.”
There are many misconceptions surrounding Inclusion that often serve as obstacles to adopting an inclusive approach at the policy level. Among them are:
• Inclusion is costly
• Implementing Inclusion needs societal change in attitudes first
• Inclusion is a positive theoretical concept, but is not practical
• Inclusion requires special skills and capacities that are difficult to develop
• Inclusion is the responsibility of the one ministry, the Ministry of Education.
To the contrary, inclusion ECCDE must be planned, implemented and practiced by all stakeholders for the benefit of children with disabilities.
Overcoming these misconceptions about Inclusion is one of the challenges to change. Individuals involved in a change process may require some pressure to change, but change will only be effective when they are able and allowed to react to form their own positions on the change process. In many cases, policymakers, parents, teachers and other stakeholders in the school need to realise that Inclusion is a process which requires changes at every level of the education system. This can be challenging to accept as it may involve readjusting conceptual
Shared values make cooperation possible, just as lack of them makes it difficult for people to work together. However, when common values are lacking, common interests, which are precursors to values, may substitute for them and in daily life are often a significant driving force. Changes in attitudes involve significant changes in conceptions and role behaviour. Among other factors, this is why change is so difficult to achieve.
6.2 Social Model
The social model places blame on the education system and not the child. It further advocates for the transformation of the environment and not the child.
We have looked at how Inclusive schooling is defined, some reasons and justifications for its implementation. We have further analysed the policy, practice and attitudes of stakeholders on inclusive schooling.
The paper has clearly shown that there is discrepancy between policy and practice with regards to inclusive schooling in Zambia. Inadequacy or lack of appropriate facilities and resources negatively influence attitudes of stakeholders towards including children with disabilities in an ordinary school. Therefore, attitudes, policy and practice must be considered as interrelated.
As Zambia implements ECCDE, it becomes very necessary that we work on addressing the challenges posed by the medical model system and move towards adopting a social model approach. Otherwise, without focusing on the education system as a problem, we shall be re inventing the wheel by perpetuating the exclusion of children with special education at ECCDE level.
understandings and may have multiple practical consequences but that is the way forward to inclusive schooling.
i). Policy makers, parents, teachers and other stakeholders should support harmonisation of attitudes, policy and practice on early childhood inclusive education in schools in order for Zambia to achieve the EFA goals.
Link policy, practice and attitudes
ii). There is need to support research in order to establish actual numbers of children with disabilities below the age of 8 years instead of relying on projections by WHO.
Ainscow M. (1995), Education For All: Making It Happen, Keynote address presented at the International Special Education Congress, Birmingham, England, April 1995. Cambridge: University of Cambridge
Ainscow, M. (2003) ‘Using Teacher Development to foster Inclusive classroom Practice’, In Booth, T., Nes, K. and Stromstag, M. (eds.) Developing Inclusive Teacher Education. London: Routledge Falmer. 15 – 32
Ainscow, M. (2005) Developing Inclusive Education Systems: What are the Levers of Change? Journal of Educational Change, (2005) 6, 109-124
Kasonde Ng’andu and Morberg S. (2001). Moving towards inclusive Schooling. BESSIP: Lusaka.
Ministry of Education (1996) Educating our Future, Lusaka: MoE.
Ministry of Education (2001), Inclusive Schooling Implementation Guide: Guidelines
for INSPRO stakeholders. Lusaka: Government Printers.
Ndhlovu ,D. (2007). How ordinary schools can be inclusive to pupils with disabilities in Zambia. Lusaka.
Simui (2007) Preparing Teachers for Inclusive Education: A study of the English approach, Manchester: Un published dissertation.
Stubbs, S. (2002), Inclusive education: where there are few resources. Gronland: The Atlas Allience
UNESCO (2004) changing Teaching Practice: Using Curriculum Differentiation to respond to Student diversity. Paris: UNESCO.
UNESCO (2005) Guidelines for Inclusion: Ensuring Access to Education for All. Paris: UNESCO.
UNESCO (2003), Overcoming Exclusion through Inclusive Approaches in Education: A challenge and Vision. Paris: UNESCO.
UNESCO (1994) The Salamanca World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality. Paris: UNESCO
UNESCO (2000) The Dakar Framework for Action: Education for All – Meeting Our Collective Commitments. Dakar: UNESCO.