Supporting inclusive classrooms: can Western approaches to teaching be applied within an Indian context?

Richard Rose, Mary Doveston, Jayashree Rajanahally, Johnson Jament, John Visser

Research output: Contribution to ConferencePaperpeer-review


As there has been an increase in Western Higher Education Institutions delivering their degree programmes in the emerging economies of Asia so have concerns been expressed that these initiatives may become a form of ‘colonialism’ seen as offering ‘superior’ understanding of how universal educational challenges should be addressed. This concern quite rightly demands that future partnerships for the development of professional development courses needs should be built upon secure and established principles of equity and collaboration. Demands for a more inclusive education system, endorsed through such international agreements as the Salamanca Statement (1994), and more recently through the Millennium Development Goals have led to an increase in training programmes aimed at equipping teachers with the skills to address the needs of a diverse school population. However, in many instances this has resulted in attempts to transport a westernised approach to education to cultural contexts which differ greatly from those in which inclusive schooling has been advanced. The potential for cultural dislocation is clearly in evidence and may prove to be an inhibiting factor rather than a means of promoting the inclusion agenda. This paper is based on a small scale research project which examines the tensions and challenges in transferring skills, knowledge and research findings within a UK accredited University master’s degree programme in inclusive education delivered in India. Course participants were asked to report on the application of ideas and strategies presented on the course and to identify issues related to cultural interpretation and transfer. A survey instrument enabled the researchers to gain data related to teacher expectations, application of learning and cultural transfer and was followed by interviews to elaborate on data acquired at the survey level. Initial findings indicate the importance of course planning and delivery being undertaken in partnership with local educators and the early recognition of cultural factors that may influence assumptions made about learning. Examples of student interpretation of definitions and ideas around inclusion and approaches to teaching illustrate the value of such collaborative initiatives. Aspects of the programme funding, delivery and assessment of outcomes will be shared based on qualitative data accrued from participating staff and students. This will include the presentation of practical learning outcomes demonstrating a synthesis between theory and practice and the implementation of teaching approaches in Indian classrooms which foster increased inclusion of children with learning difficulties. The authors will suggest a successful outcome based upon a well-established learning partnership whilst highlighting points of sensitivity and potential challenge between differing perceptions of inclusive education especially in relation to special educational needs an identification of universal ‘truths’ which transcend cultures and creeds will be offered.


Conference21st Conference of The Asian Federation on Intellectual Disabilities (AFID): Towards Dignity & Quality of Life - Evolving Individual Capacity with Family & Community Participation
Period10/10/13 → …


  • Inclusive education
  • India
  • professional development


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