Characterizing the current state of education of individuals with disabilities in Kuwait: Developing a baseline for reflection and action
Almuhareb, Khaled A.
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This study highlights the challenges inherent in attempting to explore and characterize special education models of practice in developing nations. Many such nations, where individuals with disabilities have traditionally been excluded from mainstream education, are increasingly joining in the global movement promoting the rights of all individuals to full participation in mainstream schools and other social institutions. Despite the proliferation of the rhetoric of inclusive special education practices, special education models in many of those countries have never developed in a way that allows a straightforward comparison relative to universally prevalent conceptions and notions. Survey studies that measure attitudes or perceptions, analyses that use international indicators or indexes to compare countries in terms of applying "modern" practices, or thematic analyses that typify sorts of people, beliefs and behaviors, may not be the best (or most appropriate) research tools for understanding special education practices in developing countries. They are not sufficient because they can often overlook examining the local conditions that interact with and reshape imported educational polices and practices. I drew upon analytical and research design options, geared towards exploring educational practice as a contextualized social phenomenon, to design a qualitative inquiry aimed at providing culture and context-specific description of public special education services in Kuwait. In this dissertation, I report on the methods and findings of this inquiry, hoping that the analytical and theoretical perspective from which the inquiry was conducted can serve as a promising framework for guiding the analysis of special educations models in countries like Kuwait. Results emerged from exploring the special education model implemented in Kuwait were compared to findings from other studies that examined that model to suggest some analytical and theoretical guidelines to enabling deeper more realistic characterization of special education practice in a developing nation. A multidimensional analytic approach implemented within a mode of inquiry that keeps the social of the educational program and its organizing work processes in view, can help scholars move beyond analyses that are based on the "universal buzz words", and start to interrogate what these concepts mean to all stakeholders, and what they entail in practice.