Currently, I am at a stage when the thesis proposal is written and being revised and edited. I feel confident about this stage as I have a clear understanding of what changes I would like to make in the current draft. I would like to enrich my literature review with more background information on the development of inclusive education policy in Kazakhstan in general as well as with specific examples how this process is perceived as top-down. In this post, I would like to share how I organized my main themes in the literature review and chose a couple of influential texts to cite.
My main themes in the thesis are inclusive education, civil activism, and grassroots movement. This choice might be explained by my background in political science, which creates a certain lens through which I examine inclusive education reform. In organizing my themes, I move from general to specific. For example, I start with explaining common views on policy formation in Kazakhstan in general saying “It is a common discourse in Kazakhstan that policy-making and reform are top-down processes…” and move to inclusive education specifically later “…scholarly work on inclusive education in Kazakhstan often starts with listing international and national agendas…” This is a smooth way to guide my audience to a specific research question raised in the thesis.
I organize the literature review in paragraphs, each having one major idea explained. For example, the first paragraph is dedicated to ways how civil society contributes to education reform, and the next paragraphs give specific cases one by one. This is done to draw the attention of the reader to specific ideas, separating them into topics or categories. However, it is important to glue these ideas by transitions such as “another example is…” or “an example from the higher education is…”, displaying the connection between the elements of the literature review.
For the purpose of my research to explore civil activism in inclusive education, it is important to provide evidence on bottom-up movement as well as on the state-driven top-down policies, because these two represent different approaches to policymaking. Therefore, I start the proposal citing Kassymova, D., Knox, C. and Mashan, M. (2008) who argue in their article that Kazakhstani government prescribes policies, and the citizens only execute. This view becomes a foundation of my thesis questions, which doubt such vision of policy initiatives and aim to discover how civil society actually contributes to inclusive education reform. Therefore, another work that I cite is chosen specifically to provide an example of this bottom-up activism. This work is produced by Kauffman and Popova (2013) and reveals a case of a school in Petropavlovsk city, where inclusive education has been practiced even before such policy was designed on a state level. These two works that I have cited are important to provide two different views on policy formation around inclusive education and to justify the need to fill the gap in how much we know of civil activism and movement for inclusion.
My challenge remains to find enough resources about Kazakhstan, especially speaking of such specific topics as parental activism and advocacy for the rights of children with disabilities. There is a limited selection of articles and authors who study inclusive education in Kazakhstan, although the number is growing constantly. However, a lack of certain resources is a finding of itself, so I turn this into a benefit by establishing one more cause of my thesis motivation, which is to fill the gap in the literature.
Kauffman, N. & Popova, L. (2013). A path to inclusive education in Pertopavlovsk, Kazakhstan. The Journal of Social Policy Studies, 11:4, 501-516.
Kassymova, D., Knox, C. & Mashan, M. (2008). Public Management Reforms in Kazakhstan. Public Management Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe. Slovakia: NISPAcee Press, 151-172.