2015: Journal no. 3

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS IN REGULAR SCHOOLS: STUDENTS ATTITUDES AND PERCEPTIONS

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Authors:  
Ludmila MALCOCI, PhD in social sciences, Senior researcher,Legal and Political Research Institute,Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova

The Republic of Moldova started the process of deinstitutionalization of children with disabilities/and special educational needs and their inclusion in biological families and mainstream community based services. Alongside with the deinstitutionalization, inclusion of children with special educational needs in regular community schools became a strategic direction of the educational policies in Moldova.

In 2014, the Alliance of NGOs in the field of Social Protection of Family and Child conducted a research on assessment of inclusive education models implemented in pilot schools with the aim to identify positive practices, learned lessons and challenges in developing policies in the field of evidence-based education2 The research was conducted in 20 pilot schools from 12 counties. There were interviewed 200 teachers, 20 school managers, 360 students (162 pupils with SEN, 112 students studying in classes with children with SEN and 86 children studying in classes with no students having SEN). 10 focus group discussions with caregivers, students, teachers, parents (all in total 100 participants) and 6 interviews with the general directorates of education and mayors were conducted.

The article is focused on comparative analysis of perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of students with SEN and typical students regarding the inclusion of children with SEN in regular schools. The author concluded that the implementation of inclusive education resulted in rather positive changes in respective schools: provision with materials, modern devices, improvement of teaching quality and methods, change in the behaviors of children with SEN and in typical children; the typical children have positive attitudes and perceptions regarding the inclusion of children with SEN in their regular community schools; the level of school satisfaction of both: children with SEN and typical children is pretty high; the social and learning environment in pilot schools is friendly and started to be adapted to children individual needs; the both: children with SEN and typical children have high level of self-esteem and confidence. However, there are still some differences in attitudes and perceptions as regarding the inclusive education of children with SEN: in focus group discussions some of typical children claim that sometimes the children with SEN feel uncomfortable at school because they are discriminated/ignored by their classmates; some of children with SEN have disruptive behaviors and disturb the attention of other children in classes. The children with SEN are less involved than their typical peers in classes and in extra-curricular activities and have less friends in schools and outside the schools.

Keywords:  
education, mainstreaming, integration, inclusion, children with special educational needs, educational support services, attitudes, knowledge and behaviors.