20110801 Inclusive Education for Disabled Pupils in Bolivia

20110801  A critical appraisal of the monitoring and impact of a project promoting inclusive education for disabled pupils in mainstream schools in the city of El Alto, Bolivia

The concept of inclusive education is a new one for many developing countries such as Bolivia and most of the legislation regarding disability and education still focuses on the individual or “medical model” of disability, often resulting in the segregation of disabled pupils to special schools. The aim of this study was to investigate the monitoring and impact of a project carried out by an International Non Governmental Organisation (INGO) which promoted the inclusion of disabled pupils in mainstream schools in one of the largest but poorest cities of Bolivia. For many teachers and parents, this was a new concept that had previously never been implemented in their schools.

The project employed a monitoring specialist to carry out a nine month investigation to evaluate the impact and results of its work in the schools where inclusive education had been promoted. Coinciding with the duration of the project, a new Education Law was also passed in December 2010 in Bolivia, mentioning the term “inclusive education” for the first time. This study examines the results found by the monitoring specialist during his nine months of research and includes follow up interviews with him, as well as a sample of the same actors that he interviewed. The author also chose to consult a sample of disabled pupils who were targeted by the project's work in order to gain a fuller perspective of the real impact of the project. This research study aimed to explore the barriers against inclusive education in Bolivia and the positive experiences that can be learned, in order to develop and improve future inclusive education practices and lobby for more inclusive legislation.