An International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) Seminar on Inclusive Education

Appendix 2 (Main document)


The criteria for the selection of the participants
The theory

The preparation time for the seminar was relatively short as the final decision to go ahead with the dates in March was only taken in early January. However the strict criteria for screening the participants which had been agreed at the planning meeting held in Delhi in November 1997 was still applied. Each participant had to complete an application form. It was intended that the numbers of participants would be limited to approximately 35.

The practice
Although the criteria was strict and clear, it was interpreted differently by each of the IDC member organisations. The selection process became a combination of pragmatics and principles. The varying needs of the IDC members had to be catered to, since this was, after all, an IDC seminar. This meant that there was a substantial group of participants who had very little experience of inclusive education, and several of these were based in Europe. The greater number, and the broader range of experience, of the participants therefore determined the way the seminar developed.

There were 50 participants and 5 facilitators from 23 different countries. Although there was representation from a wide variety of geographical locations, namely SE Asia; S Asia; Africa; Middle East; Central America; and Europe, the majority of participants came from Asia. There were seven Africans, each representing a different country; three Palestinians; one central American; and five Europeans, excluding the three facilitators from the UK.

The experience of the participants was extremely wide ranging, in the level, type and length of experience. The level ranged from policy makers in the ministry of education, to teachers and teacher trainers, and to grass roots community workers and priests. The type of experience was even more varied: CBR trainers; members of an organisation of the deaf; an ex-pupil of a residential special school; parents of disabled children; national co-ordinators of special and inclusive education. The length of time participants have been involved in inclusive education ranged from those who have not yet started to those who have had almost ten years' experience.

Finally, the participants' understanding of English varied enormously. There was a Chinese and a Vietnamese interpreter. The Russian interpreter was not able to attend due to visa problems which left the participant from Kyrgyzstan without an interpreter. For the first few days she shared the Vietnamese interpreter, who also spoke Russian, and for the last few days an interpreter was hired from Delhi. The only deaf participant came with his own interpreter. There were several other participants, however, who had great difficulty in expressing themselves in English which limited their participation.

The facilitators
There was a team of five facilitators who had never worked together as a team before, and some of whom had never met. Their terms of reference was drafted by the planning committee in November, but the first planning meeting only took place on February 28 in Delhi, the day before departure for Agra.

It was intended that the facilitation team would comprise ten individuals representing a wide range of experience and background. However the team of five represented a wide range of international experience of inclusive education and disability and development work. Four of the five facilitators were women, each representing a different organisation: SCF, EENET, Leonard Cheshire Foundation International and the National Council for Educational Research (NCERT), India. The only man on the team is a blind person who is self-employed and has extensive experience of supporting grass-roots disability organisations. Two of the team members are Indian nationals based in India and the other three are based in the UK.

The funding
Core funding for the seminar was provided by Handicap International and Radda Barnen (Sweden). This covered the salary of the seminar administrator, the travel company which arranged the hotel and travel within India, the production of a video, and the cost of producing and disseminating the report. Each participant was fully funded by the IDDC organisation who sponsored them and this covered travel and accommodation costs and a seminar fee.

The location
The seminar was held in India because five IDDC member organisations are working there and because it was a convenient venue for participants from South East Asia, where a great deal of pioneering work in inclusive education has been carried out. It was also chosen to support the growing interest in inclusive education in India. The hotel in Agra was chosen because it was cheaper than hotels in Delhi and it was wheelchair accessible.

The agenda
The agenda was planned in India, one day at a time, in order to respond to the needs of the group. No provisional agenda was circulated prior to the seminar. Ideas for the agenda were suggested by participants on their application forms, but these only served as a guide to the facilitators in planning the first day's agenda and in familiarising themselves with the group. However the overall agenda emerged as the seminar progressed.