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INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND THE ROLE OF RECOURSE CENTRES IN THE ETHIOPIAN CONTEXT [Abstract ID: 0403-07]
Inclusive education is an overarching trend globally. However, the majority of children with disabilities are likely not to attend schools in developing countries including Ethiopia. Access to education for learners with disabilities requires, amongst other things, awareness of the right to education for all, respect of diversity in a broader sense, and technical support provided to teachers and learners the same as to the wider school community. This paper will focus on the role of Inclusive Education Recourse Centers in Ethiopia in making mainstream education in three Ethiopian regions accessible for children with disabilities and special educational needs. Sixteen IERCs were contacted, since these institutions were the primary targets, and six satellite schools linked to IERCs. A mixed assessment method was applied to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Questionnaires, interviews, and focus group discussions were employed as data collection methods. The participants from the IERCs were school administrators, itinerant teachers, special needs education teachers, regular classroom teachers, counselors, laboratory technicians, and students with special needs. A total of 316 participants from IERCs and satellite schools contributed as data sources. It was identified that large numbers of students and teachers in the evaluated IERCs and satellite schools benefited from the support provided. Changes in awareness about inclusive education and attitudes towards children with special needs are recognized. The schools are equipped with relevant materials that support inclusive pedagogy in the classroom and these are properly utilized in all the IERCs. The awareness of parents and communities is gradually changing, except in some unreached communities. As a result, the number of students with special needs is increasing across the target schools. Although the nature of inclusive education is a process that improves over time, there are some barriers observed that in one way or another constrain the extent of the success of IERCs - such as overburdened itinerant teachers and the assignment of itinerant teachers to large numbers of satellite schools. Overall, the finding reveals that there are various encouraging activities that are underway in the IERCs and the satellite schools which support the improvement of the provision of inclusive education, where the marginalized groups of children with special needs are benefiting.