Who Are the Disadvantaged? a Case for Social Inclusion in the Education System of Small Caribbean Islands.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:21
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Carel HODGE, University of New England, Australia
The purpose of this research is to discover how students who have special educational needs and are deemed “disadvantaged” are catered for within schools in the small island developing states of the Eastern Caribbean.  The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has seen some success over the years in harmonising and aligning the education systems, plans and strategies of their member states. While the sub-region has achieved international goals of universal primary and secondary education, whether the education systems are adequately meeting the needs of those with disabilities remains uncertain.

Inclusive education is being practiced in varying degrees and is treated differently within schools, within islands and within the regional grouping. How students with disabilities are treated depends on where they are situated rather than uniformly through the implementation of strategies and plans outlined by the OECS Education Sector Strategy (OESS) document. The OESS currently does not consider inclusive education an independent policy area, but have incorporated strategies among seven cross cutting themes.

For this study qualitative interviews were conducted with students, teachers, parents, policy actors and other stakeholders in three islands; St. Kitts, Antigua and St. Lucia between November 2014 and February 2015.

The data shows reoccurring themes of teacher education and training, resources and funding, stigma and discrimination as well as communication and awareness as contributing the lack of equity and equality in the practice of inclusive education in the sub-region.

The absence of an inclusive education policy with specific plans and strategies have implications not only for the quality of education received by those “disadvantaged” students, but all students within the education system in the OECS.