Stakeholders' Perspectives on the Implementation of the Inclusive Education Policy in Samoa: A Cultural Fit
This is a qualitative study designed to investigate how the concept of inclusive education (IE) is understood and applied at a number of levels in the Samoan education system. It aims to identify barriers and facilitators to the implementation of the IE policy in this context. The study seeks an answer to the question: What are the beliefs, experiences, expectations and practises of key stakeholders of IE? The stakeholders include practising teachers in primary education classrooms, policy-makers in education, parents of children who are physically and intellectually challenged, teacher-trainers, and local community leaders. The study uses a phenomenologically oriented approach to gain insight into participants’ perspectives and experiences about IE and the implementation of this policy in Samoa. It draws upon document analysis, individual interviews, and focus group discussions as methods for data collection. The results indicate a paradox in participants’ beliefs and practices of IE. Participants, particularly the policy implementers (teachers), tend to be inclusive in their thinking and behaviour at home. However, in the classroom, although participants seem to operate from an inclusive mindset, the practice tends to be exclusive and thus grounded in the medical model of disability. Rather than creating inclusive environments, IE appears to have created another type of exclusion. A number of implications for practice are detailed and future research ideas are outlined.