TEACHERS’ ATTITUDES TOWARD INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES IN RURAL EL SALVADOR
Sabella, Thomas V.
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The attitude of school teachers toward inclusion of children with disabilities is an important factor in the successful implementation of a national inclusion program. With the universal pressure to provide education for all and international recognition of the importance of meeting the needs of diverse populations, inclusive education has become important to governments around the world. El Salvador’s Ministry of Education seeks to establish inclusion as an integral part of their struggle to meet the needs of children across the country, but this is a difficult process, especially for a country with limited resources which still struggles to meet international expectations of educational access and quality. Teacher attitude is an important factor in the success of inclusion programs and can be investigated in relation to various factors which may affect teachers’ classroom practice. While these factors have been investigated in multiple countries, there is a need for more knowledge of the present situation in developing countries and especially in schools across the rural areas of El Salvador to meet the needs of the diverse learners in that country. My research was a mixed methods case study of the rural schools of one municipality, using a published survey and interviews with teachers to investigate their attitudes regarding inclusion. This research was the first investigation of teachers’ attitudes toward inclusion in rural El Salvador and explored the needs and challenges which exist in creating inclusive schools across this country. The findings of this study revealed the following important themes. Some children with disabilities are not in school and those with mild disabilities are not always getting needed services. Teachers agreed with the philosophy of inclusion, but believed that some children with disabilities would receive a better education in special schools. They were not concerned about classroom management. Teachers desired more training on disability and inclusion. They believed that a lack of resources, including materials and personnel, was a major barrier to inclusion. Teachers’ attitudes were consistent regardless of family and professional experience with disability or amount of inclusion training. They were concerned about the role of family support for children with disabilities.