Inclusive education is a broad concept for an inclusion of ALL children in one classroom. ‘ALL’ refers to children with (1) disabilities (both mental and physical), (2) gifted, (3) inept, (4) socially vulnerable, (5) immigrants, (6) special needs, (7) different religion, (8) different race or ethnicity, (9) and those who belong to other minority or minoritized groups. Inclusive education strives for eradicating discrimination and preconceptions toward particular groups in the society (Centre for Studies and Inclusive Education (CSIE), 1997). Kazakhstan is one of many countries which are trying to implement a policy of inclusive education. Inclusive education may impose a great deal of danger to an unprepared country, for that reason it is difficult to say whether it is time for the country to spread inclusive education throughout Kazakhstan.
The Kazakhstani government is doing too many things simultaneously. Trilingual policy, new standards of learning (as in NU or NIS) and even inclusive education. Of course, they may complement each other if done properly and at the proper time. Here are the possible threats that inclusive education imposes on children and society:
- A child thrown into a classroom with children different from him could be discriminated;
- Physical and mental violence might take place;
- A child could become an outcast;
- Some children might lose motivation to study when in one class with gifted ones;
- Children who does not know the language of instruction well could have troubles with performance etc.
These threats are only one side of the coin as the things could take a totally different direction. Children may become aware of children with special needs and may learn to accept them the way they are. The latter could be able to be integrated into a society, build confidence and lead a social life. To make this happen, the following must be done:
- Whole new curricula must not only be created but concern ALL children with different needs (not only special ones);
- Teachers must be specially trained, not for 2 weeks, but for years;
- Inclusive education has to start from kindergarten where teachers will teach children with special needs to become a part of the society and other children to accept them;
- A special campaign of making society aware of inclusion should start its work;
- Government shall work with parents to make them understand how to take care of children with special needs and integrate them into the society and much more.
At the end of the day, inclusive education remains to be a very sensitive and risky. There is little to no empirical research on the situation of inclusive education in Kazakhstan. For that reason, it seems to be done abruptly. Kazakhstan needs time to prepare a program of overcoming the threats of inclusive education.
I would like to know if any of you have come across any empirical research on inclusive education in Kazakhstan? If you did, please let me know.
Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE). (1997). Inclusive education a framework for change. National and international perspectives. Bristol, UK: CSIE
Photo credit: https://www.unicef.org/bih/media_18076.html