Successful Conversations about Inclusive Education: EENET’s Golden Mission
Dr Joseph Kisanji
EENET’s role should be to initiate and sustain South-South and South-North conversation between and among grassroot practitioners in inclusive education. The idea of conversation was accepted almost instantaneously and the word has appeared in EENET’s mission statement and almost all subsequent reports, Newsletter and other materials.
Does conversation mean the same to everyone who is involved in issues of inclusion and exclusion?
Conversation implies active participation. Despite changes in classroom, school and community based approaches, formal routines continue to prevent meaningful interaction. Part of the problem may be our misinterpretation of the terms ‘participation’ and ‘involvement’, and this is shown by the example of community based rehabilitation (CBR) programmes. Even with the best of intentions, but due to their training and the use of prescribed materials, rehabilitation workers often merely explain to family members what they want and expect it to happen, instead of engaging them in a discussion as equal partners.
If EENET is to live up to its mission, the conditions for meaningful conversation need to be followed. It should encourage equality and positive inter-cultural communication and relations in order to avoid stereotyping, domination and imposition of foreign values in inclusive education. The best way is, as has been suggested by certain educationalists, to “enter into an open-ended dialogue, where neither party is in control and there are no privileged … cultural positions”. In the light of these issues, we need to examine our attitudes and change them accordingly.
Dr Joseph Kisanji can be contacted at EENET