The role of parental activism in inclusive education

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Nowadays the development of inclusive education in Kazakhstan is shouldered on the number of stakeholders including Ministry of Education, NGOs, school authorities, curriculum planners, training institutes, and entrepreneurs, teachers, parents and communities. Nonetheless, it is necessary to point out, that parents, teachers and communities are those who play the most important role in promotion of inclusion (UNESCO, 2008; UNICEF, 2012). Especially in Kazakh society parents and family play crucial role in their children education development as well as in decision making (OECD, 2014). As it is showed in the title, present post is about the role of parents in the development of inclusive education. I decided to choose this topic because I believe that parents are the powerful advocates for their children. They are able to influence positively on the quality of educational service, demanding the fulfillment of obligations of other stakeholders. Besides, parents are able to monitor the outcomes of the education policies, identifying its strength and weaknesses.

It is obvious feature of the policy implementation process that stakeholders usually split into two contrary sides: against and for. Bridges (2014) states that some stakeholders accept inclusion and defend the needs of inclusion, however, there are also those who argue against their view and suggest that segregation is more appropriate way to serve children with disabilities (Bridges, 2014). Parents of healthy children considered to be those who usually against inclusion, who think their children’s performances could drop in the case of inclusion. School administrators with the soviet time experience also do not support the idea of inclusion (Markova and Sultanalieva, 2013). The opposite side is taken by parents of children with disabilities who advocate their children right to education. They do believe that inclusion is beneficial for all children in the class as it claimed by UNICEF, inclusion leads to a greater social cohesion, it teaches normal children to be tolerant and welcoming and give opportunity to children with disabilities to socialize and take an active role in life (UNICEF, 2012).

The study of UNICEF (2013) revealed that 36 % of involved parents were familiar with the concept of inclusive education, 36 % are not acquainted with this term, 24 %  have heard something about it and the rest 4 % had difficulties to answer (UNICEF, 2013). Nevertheless, the facts that less then half of parents who were aware of inclusive education, their role in promotion could be essential. Parents in collaboration with non-governmental organizations and society could contribute to the development of policies for disability and create positive atmosphere for practice of inclusion and children’s rights protection (Bridges, 2014). In fact, that parents of children with disabilities are tend to be more familiar with particular disability than some medical professionals gives them avenues to provide a special trainings and professional development for other parent and professionals. Furthermore, they even can give advices on for state policies and give feedback on its effectiveness (Markova and Sultanalieva, 2013).

At present time parents of children with disabilities in Kazakhstan become more aware of their role and small, but very vital initiatives have been already done by them towards promotion of inclusive education (Rouse and Lapham, 2013).  Many of the parents of children with disabilities organize their own non governmental organizations.

Opening of the new inclusive school and preschool institutions such as school №13 in Petropavlovsk, School- Gymnasium №65 in Astana, schools № 49 and №116 in Almaty,  and the various NGOs, which are dealing with the right of people with disabilities, including Ashyk Alem  Association, ARDI association, DARA foundation and other, are the outcomes of parental activism and dedication to development of inclusive education. Parental activism is vital for the promotion of inclusion in Kazakhstan, since it demonstrates how a small group of people can contribute to the development of global trend in education, delivering the voice of children with disabilities to the policy makers.

References

Bridges, D.(2014). Educational reforms and internationalization: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan. UK: London, Cambridge Press.

Markova M., Sultanalieva D. (2013). Parent activism in Kazakhstan: the promotion of autistic children’s educational rights by the Ashyk Alem foundation. The Journal of Social Policy study, 11(4), pp. 483-498.

Rouse, M. and Lapham, K. (2013). The long road to inclusion. The Journal of Social Policy study, 11(4), pp. 439-454.

OECD (2014). Reviews of national policies for education: Secondary education in Kazakhstan. Paris: OECD.

UNESCO (2008). Guidelines for inclusion: ensuring access to education for all.  France: Paris. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved from the www.unescodoc.unesco.org

UNICEF (2012). The right of children with disabilities to education.  Switzerland: Geneva. UNICEF. Retrieved from the official cite www.unicef.org

UNICEF (2013). The Report on Sociological Study of Public Opinion on Creation of Inclusive Environment for Children with Disabilities and Maintains Prevention of   Infants Abandonment.  Astana: Research Institute “Public Opinion”.

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