ASSESSING THE PROCESS OF IMPLEMENTING INCLUSIVE EDUCATION POLICY AT THE EARLY CHILDHOOD LEVEL IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
Joseph, LENISA N.
This study examined the implementation of inclusive education at the early childhood level in Trinidad and Tobago. Subjects included officials from the Ministry of Education and teachers who are involved in implementation of the policies for children at early childhood centers. I used qualitative methodology in order to best assess inclusive education implementation process at the early childhood level using the implementation framework of Fixsen et al (2005) and the UNESCO (2005) guidelines for inclusive education. Using a combination of data collection methods I assessed from senior ministry officials and teachers at pilot schools how the implementation of inclusive education at the early childhood level was progressing. The written documents of the former government used to access loans for the initiative reflects use of all three drivers of the Fixsen framework. The actual implementation was affected by the lack of a sufficient number of teachers required for the initiative. In addition the former government lost the election during the early stages of implementation and changes at the Ministerial level resulted in alterations in implementation plans. The current government has not continued the same inclusive education model. The findings are reflective of what can happen when new education initiatives are attempted by a top down approach without sufficient infrastructure. As this is often the case in many developing countries, it leads to gaps between policies and their implementation. The study also indicates the need for ensuring that there are resources at the ground level and sustained support and technical assistance in order for countries to successfully implement inclusive education policies.