A study of the development, implementation and perception of the ‘Towards Inclusive Schools Development Programme’ at three government primary schools in Lebanon
KASSBAH, ZEINAB YEHYA AGHA
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This research investigates the Toward Inclusive School Development Programme (TISDP) launched in Lebanon, in January 2018. The project is a joint initiative of the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MEHE), and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and is supported by the Government of Canada. The study investigates the perceptions, development, and implementation of the TISDP. A mixed methods approach is used to collect quantitative data through surveys and qualitative data through focus groups, semi-structured interviews, participatory and non- participatory observation, and document analysis. The exploratory sequential mixed methods design was adopted to provide the qualitative data. The paradigm of pragmatism was also applied to bridge the gap between the scientific method and naturalistic methods. Thus, the use of triangulation aimed to increase validity and trustworthiness. The research questions focused on the aspects of development and how the provision services were implemented for the target group of students. It also explored the perspective of different stakeholders of the development and implementation. Findings revealed that there are several gaps realised during the implementation process towards inclusion. The following areas of concern need to be addressed to ensure sustainable development of the programme in the future. These gaps include: 1. Lack of alignment - There is a disconnect or misalignment between what the management level of the programme wants to achieve and what the principals and paraprofessionals in the schools actually do. This has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the programme. 2. Enforcement - It was noted that there is an obsessive forced hierarchical system rather than a participatory system in the programme. 3. There is no clear inclusive education policy at the national level and there is a lack of resources to provide provision services, which leads to frustration among paraprofessionals. The study concludes with recommendations for future practises based on lessons learned from TISDP. Finally, detailed suggestions for further research have been made to help fill the research gap with the aim of improving inclusive services in Beirut, Lebanon.