Excluded in Inclusive Schools: Experiences of Children with Disabilities, their Families and Teachers in Sri Lanka

Sudath Piyankara Abeywickrama, Inoka Kumudini Jayasinghe, Samanmali Priyanga Sumanasena


Purpose: This study examined the experiences of children with disabilities, their parents and teachers at the special education units in 3 public schools, located in the Kandy district of Sri Lanka.

Method: The participants were 20 children with disabilities, 18 parents and 8 teachers. In order to examine the influence of physical, social and psychological environments on children’s participation in learning, this qualitative study employed participatory tools, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and non-participatory observations. The data were manually coded using thematic analysis.

Results: Five themes emerged: attitudes, values and beliefs; support and relationships; devices and technology; natural and built environment; and services systems and policies. Factors facilitating or hindering learning were identified within each theme. Parents and teachers tend to focus on the children’s impairments and academic achievements. However, extracurricular activities and supportive relationships were found to promote student participation.

Conclusions: Overall, the current practices in Sri Lankan education for children with disabilities did not meet the global recommendations. There is a need to design culturally compatible inclusive education models and to achieve a paradigm shift within all communities towards inclusion.

doi 10.5463/DCID.v24i1.172


Children with disabilties; inclusive education; learning environment

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5463/dcid.v24i1.172

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