The School of Education was delighted to invite researchers from Cambodia this autumn as part of the ongoing Educational Inclusion project. This project, undertaken in collaboration with the University of Battambang and KHEN explores inclusive practice in remote rural Cambodian schools.
Although schooling is now compulsory in Cambodia, only 50% of children in rural areas have access to education. Schools that do exist often run in make-shift buildings with no electricity or clean water, poorly qualified teachers and no resources. KHEN is currently working to address these challenges and has built 41 new or refurbished schools since their establishment in 2014, influencing the lives of over 9000 children. However, although most of the newly built schools have basic disabled access, and all teachers receive child rights education from KHEN, it’s unclear to what extent these schools are inclusive, especially for children with additional support needs.
To explore this, a Scoping Study was conducted in two remote areas of Battambang Province to determine perceptions of inclusive education. The findings indicated that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current quality of inclusion in rural schools, with interviewees citing lack of training and resources, and a range of socio-cultural and economic barriers, as key factors. The research team is now working on a practical, context-sensitive and sustainable capacity-building programme to support professional development in inclusion amongst practitioners in rural schools and to enhance the quality of educational inclusion for all children.