The History Of Disabilities In Cambodia Education Essay

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Education is the basic rights to everyone or everyone has rights to receive education within his/her own community. Article 31 of the Education Law of Cambodia stated that "every citizen has the right to access qualitative education of at least 9 years in public schools free of charge" (Ministry of Education Youth and Sport [MoEYS], 2007, p. 18). Education for All [EFA] means to provide education to all people regardless of sex, race, geographic, or disabilities. Everyone, including children with disabilities [CwDs], has the same and equal rights to receive education in their life. Article 38 and 39 of the Education Law addressed "special education specifically regarding the rights of the learners with disabilities to learn with the able children and provide a special education service for learners with disabilities" (MoEYs, 2007, pp. 22-23). MoEYs needs to prepare teaching and learning environment and curriculum to be flexible, inclusive, integrated and special to provide education to CwDs. It means that all kinds of children are able to sit in the same room or class at the same time to receive the same and equal education. Resources such as teachers and school facilities must be appropriate to both non-disability and disability students. Based on the Education Law, policy on Education for children with disabilities [ECWD] first established in 2008. "This policy is designed to serve children with disabilities. Schools must be inclusive for all children having access to schooling" (MoEYS, 2008, p. 3). The practice of inclusive education in primary education aims to achieve the following objectives:

Promote accessibility of CwDs in receiving education

Raise up awareness of CwDs among parents, care givers, and local authorities in Cambodia

Identify types of disability of children attending primary schools

Enable MoEYs to produce appropriate resources (teachers and school facilities) for inclusive education in primary education

Problem statements

In reality children with disabilities always face with stigma, discrimination and challenges in their lives. They are excluded from any social activities, locked lonely in a house, seldom sent to schools, and especially schools are not appropriate for them. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] (2009a) stated that "98% of CwDs in developing countries didn't attend school; or it can be said that less than 10% of them had access to any form of education" (pp. 7-8). Thomas (2005) said that "disabled people in Cambodia experience significant exclusion. They suffer from direct discrimination and stigma, and from varying degrees of social isolation. They are also largely excluded from the political process and development" (p. 7). The Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] (2002) also found that "people with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups in Cambodia as there are limited access to education, skills/vocational trainings, job placement, income generation opportunities, and other social services" (p. 10). Each country has "obligation to include children with disabilities to have full participation in home life and schools. But it does not always translate into action" (VanLeit, Channa, & Rithy, 2007, p. 65). The government seems to rely on development partners [DPs] to address the matter of education for disabilities in Cambodia. A study done by Cooperation Committee for Cambodia [CCC] in 2006 found that:

The Cambodian government's almost total reliance on NGOs to address disability issues has meant that disability has become largely divorced and isolated from mainstream development. Despite the remarkable efforts of NGOs working in the sector, services for disabled people are inadequate, and are particularly lacking in rural areas. (CCC, 2006, p. 14)

The educational curriculum of Cambodia is still rigid, only for non-disabled children as stated by Moreira (2011) that "Cambodia still lacks developed education systems for children with disabilities" (p. 53). The CCC's and Moreira's study also found that services are even more scarce in rural and remote areas.

Remote areas in this study refer to the provinces or areas with either geographical areas far from the capital city, or the lowest socio-economic status in the country. People there have been living with poverty, too many family members, low limitation of knowledge or sometimes have never had access to schooling, low income, and worked as farmers. Study done by VanLeit, Channa, & Rithy (2007) found that "majority of households surveyed had 4 to 9 family members living with poverty making less than 1 to 2 US dollar per day. Most of them were farmers; and the rest were self-employed or labored for others" (p. 57). Moreira (2011) also found that:

Majority of the families had four or more children, had at least completed primary school and were farmers. They lived in homes made of natural materials (wood, palm leaves or thatch, bamboo) and used bicycles while some had no means of transportation. They did not have steady sources of income, but were dependent on the season for earnings and had difficulty covering daily basic needs. They were poor, living on less than 10,000 Riels (approximately 2.50 USD) a day. (Moreira, 2011, p. 31)

1.3 Purpose of study

The main purpose of this research was to understand the challenges children with disability face, and to what extent inclusive education responded to these needs or challenges in remote areas of Cambodia.

1.4 Research questions

Using a study with children with disabilities in primary schools in Boribor district, Kampong Chhnang province, a remote area of Cambodia, the study attempted to answer the following questions:

What are CwDs challenges in school, home and community?

What are community's perceptions on CwDs?

How does inclusive education respond to the needs of CwDs in remote areas of Cambodia?

1.5 Significance of study

This study is intended to become a useful resource and reference to other researchers, teachers and NGOs working with children with disabilities due to its several significances. First, it will provide information on challenges that children with disabilities have faced in their daily activities at home, in schools and communities. Second, it will also share with readers the perceptions of communities on children with disabilities based on Cambodian cultural belief and habits. Third, information of inclusive education [IE] in primary schools will be pointed out, and show how IE responds to the needs of CwDs in Cambodia. Last but not the least, study will raise strategies to make the gap between policy of IE and its implementation becomes smaller and smaller.

1.6 Scope and Limitation

The scope of this research was small. It was conducted in four primary schools with the sample size of 8 CwDs, 4 teachers of CwDs and two observations in Boribo district, Kampong Chhnang province. This study did not concern much about the disparity of gender balance but it was still encouraging to get girls with disabilities to be involved in the study.

Stubbs (2002) defines Inclusive Education as "not only about the inclusion of disabled people but also including all marginalized groups excluded from education, and inclusion is essentially about creating a system to accommodate all" (p. 11). United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] (2009b) also defined that:

Inclusive Education is a process involving the transformation of schools and other centers of learning to cater for all children - including boys and girls, students from ethnic and linguistic minorities, rural populations, those affected by HIV and AIDS, and those with disabilities and difficulties in learning and to provide learning opportunities for all youth and adults as well. (UNESCO, 2009b, p. 4)

Thus, the Inclusive Education is about including all children together into schools or learning centers regardless of their diversities in order to eliminate the exclusion from the societies. This research cannot cover all what IE means in its definition. It would only focus on children with disabilities in Inclusive Education because it is generally found that CwDs "continued to be persistently excluded from education" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 7) and the last one to be "included in the development" of the country (Thomas, 2005, p. 7). More than this, there are different types of disabilities, and each type needs different intervention and assistive devices.

1.7 Proposed Chapters

This research contains of five chapters. Chapter one is the introduction which consists of background of the study, problem statement, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitation, and proposed chapters of the research. Chapter two will provide details related to literature review mentioning about the disabilities in Cambodia (definition, causes and types of disabilities), community's perception on children with disability, definition and key terms (of special education, integrated education and inclusive education), importance of inclusive education, and challenges children with disability face at home, in school and community. Besides, challenges parents of CwDs, teachers of CwDs face will also be mentioned in this chapter as well. Chapter three will cover research methodology and methods used for data collection. Findings and discussion of the study will be detailed in chapter four. The last chapter will be conclusion and recommendations. Finally, reference list and appendices will be added to this study.



2.1 Disabilities in Cambodia

Data of disability in Cambodia are not reliable or accurate as different sources provide different numbers. Studies done by Cooperation Committee for Cambodia [CCC], 2006, p. 8; and Heng, Piseth, & Kanika, 2010, p. 8 found that "statistic of disability in Cambodia is undependable because there are no accurate statistics on the incidence of disability in this country at all".

One noticeable thing is it was found by Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] (2002) that "21% of the populations with disabilities are children" (p. 4).

2.1.1 Definition of disability

There are two models on disability. One is called "Medical Model". The medical model "sees PwDs as problems, patients who are in need of medical services. Beyond helping them achieve functional independence through rehabilitation, efforts are not made to empower disabled people or to dismantle attitudinal or social barriers built up against them" (CCC, 2006, p. 11; MoEYs, 2009, pp. 1-2). The other one is "Social Model". This model "does not see disability as problem but the society itself" (CCC, 2006, pp. 11-12; MoEYs, 2009, p. 2). It sees that people with impairments become disabled because of barriers in society like social norms and discrimination which prevent them to become equal members of society. The model tries to advance the rights of disabled people and to advocate for their needs. It also acknowledges the capacities and limitations of disabled people in a positive and constructive way and supports their access to a wide range of services from the institution to the community level.

Definition of disability is given differently from universally to nationally and each institution or country has its own meaning; as one explanation given by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] (2009a) is "disability is the outcome of complex interactions between functional limitations arising from a person's physical, intellectual, or mental condition and the social and physical environment. It has multiple dimensions and is far more than an individual health or medical problem" (p. 103). World Health Organization [WHO] defines that "disability refers to difficulties encountered in any or all three areas of functioning. It arises from the interaction of health conditions with contextual factors - environmental and personal" (WHO, 2011, p. 5). The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability [UNCRPD] gave another definition that "persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others" (UNCRPD as cited in Heng, Piseth, & Kanika, 2010, p. 8). Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation [MoSVY] of Royal Government of Cambodia [RGC] as well as the Japan International Cooperation Agency [JICA] gave the other definition of disability that "persons with disabilities refers to any persons who lack, lose, or damage any physical or mental functions, which result in a disturbance to their daily life or activities" (MoSVY, 2009, p. 1; JICA, 2002, p. 7). There are too many definitions of disability. If the definition of disability is not clear like this, the implementation of policies and plans to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities will also not be so clear. Heng, Piseth, & Kanika (2010) stated in their report that "the RGC should adopt the definition of disability and develop a new disability classification system based on the rights based approach and in line with UNCRPD, and incorporates appropriate disability identification tools in all major demographic data collection instruments" (p. 8).

People may assume that "disability" and "impairment" are the same, but it is not. "Impairment" refers to only limitations of people with disabilities in their daily activities or societies, but "disability" is more than this. Once people have impairment, limitations in functioning activities; facing with being excluded, discriminated from the societies; then they become disabled.

2.1.2 Causes of disabilities

Cambodia used to face with such a long time of civil war which caused all sectors of this country to be under zero point. Many people were killed, and beside majority of the population alive have been living with poverty, malnutrition, illiterates, disabilities etc. in every parts of the country. It was stated in two studies that the United Nations and Disabled Persons recorded 1.4 million disabled people in Cambodia or 15 per cent of the total population (CCC, 2006, p. 8; and Heng, Piseth, & Kanika, 2010, p. 8).

There are various causes of disability in Cambodia. One cause of disability is "poverty". It was mentioned in many studies that poverty is the underlying cause of disability in the country, and it may increase the risk of disability (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 6; Moreira, 2011, p. 55; WHO, 2011, p. 10). According to UNESCO (2010), "poverty is both a potential cause and a consequence of disability. Conflict contributes to disability directly through physical threats and indirectly through effects on poverty, nutrition and health care, and road accidents" (pp. 181-182). As stated earlier in the problem statement of this study people living in remote areas have faced many challenges. The most noticeable one is "poverty"; and as a result of living in that kind of situation "pregnant women may become malnourished and are more likely to have malnourished children, putting them at risk of developing intellectual disabilities" (Moreira, 2011, p. 55).

Illnesses and diseases are the main causes of disability as well as congenital defects, and landmine accidents as stated in many studies (JICA, 2002, pp. 5-17; VanLeit, Channa, & Rithy, 2007, p. 57; CCC, 2006, pp. 8-19; HI, 2004 as cited Thomas, 2005, p. 6).

Beside the above causes of disabilities, Moreira (2011) learnt from interviewees that "cause for intellectual disability of their child was due to various factors, which we have divided into two types of responses: causes due to medical reasons and causes based in cultural beliefs" (p. 75). Some parents responded, about the medical reason, that there are "various causes occurring during the different stages of pregnancy (antenatal, perinatal, and postnatal) including maternal malnutrition or illness, wrong medication, complications during delivery, child malnutrition, an accident to the head, or severe fever and convulsions" (Moreira, 2011, p. 76) whilst another parents reported that "Karma and low fortune that makes an individual vulnerable to or at risk of a spirit's attack" (Moreira, 2011, p. 77) is the causes from cultural beliefs.

2.1.3 Types of disabilities

So far there have been no any official classifications of disability in Cambodia. The JICA (2002) found that "the most common types of disability among children in Cambodia are polio, hearing and visual problems, cerebral palsy and emotional and behavioural problems" (p. 4). Thomas (2005) contributed that "the most common types of disability in Cambodia are moving difficulties, followed by seeing and then hearing difficulties" (p. 6). Carter (2009) stated in her study that "MoSVY and Ministry of Planning [MoP] developed a 9-category system (the ninth one is "other") in order to aid in identifying different disabilities for operational purposes" (p. 14). After a survey on the Situation for the Disabled in Cambodia was conducted in 2010, an unofficial classification of disabilities was grouped into eight types of difficulties: 1) seeing difficulties or visual impairment, 2) hearing difficulties or hearing impairment, 3) speaking difficulties or mute/speaking impairment, 4) moving difficulties or physical impairment, 5) feeling difficulties, 6) abnormal behaviour or mental impairment, 7) learning difficulties or intellectual impairment, and 8) fits (JICA, 2002, p. 7).

2.2 Community's perception on children with disabilities

Children with disabilities are one among the most vulnerable and poor groups in Cambodia facing many challenges in their whole lives. Their disabilities cause them to be "more vulnerable to poverty" (Thomas, 2005, p. 26). In Cambodia, children with disabilities are often called or regarded as "the poorest of the poor" (Carter, 2009, p. 7), and they have only "fewer opportunities to escape poverty than the non-disabled poor" (Thomas, 2005). Once they were born, seeing the sun light, they start facing stigma and discrimination as it was found by Carter (2009) that "PwDs may experience discrimination due to physical difference as well as a perceived mental handicap. Discrimination towards them remains a problem in Cambodia, despite important strides, and widespread of not only karma but rather a lack of understanding" (pp. 22-24). The Cooperation Committee for Cambodia [CCC] (2006) said that "discrimination against disabled people whether committed maliciously or unwittingly leads to their social exclusion" (p. 10). People with disabilities are being making fun of, excluded from any social activities and education. Discrimination against children with disabilities was shown in many different ways, and "can originate from many different sources, including health, cultural, and social factors" (Moreira, 2011, p. 53).

As we already known, majority of Cambodian people believe in Buddhism. It is believed that when people do good they will receive good result, and when they do badly they will achieve bad outcome either for their next lives. They believe in Karma, and based on this belief, Cambodian has the concept that "disability is the outcome of a bad deed/sin that a person committed in his/her previous life" (JICA, 2002, p. 8; Thomas 2003, Hughes and Conway 2003 as cited in Thomas, 2005, p. 21; Carter, 2009, p. 22; Moreira, 2011, pp. 62-63). Nicknames or second names or name-calling is another kind of discrimination towards children with disabilities as many studies found that family members, neighbors, friends and strangers used different names to call to people with disabilities instead of using their first name. Moreira (2011) stated in his study that "in Cambodian socio-cultural context, there are different words like "stupid" [អាល្ងង់], "cripple" [អាខ្វិន], "blind" [អាខ្វាក់] used to describe what English speakers call "disability"" (p. 59). Nicknames were given to disabled, and they were making fun of these names. It was also found by the CCC (2006) that "name calling and making fun of disabled people is common. Family members and neighbors routinely call disabled children names related to their disability rather than their given names" (p. 10). Children with disabilities are not only being making fun of just given nick names but also "imitating the ways they walked, talked, or moved about. It is normally happen to CwDs aged below 18" (CCC, 2006, p. 25).

Besides, "there are other ways of discrimination which is started at an early age of CwDs such as social exclusion, rejection, negative criticism, insults, blaming the mothers, and even suggestions for euthanasia" (Moreira, 2011, p. 94). Additionally, it is known that in Cambodian society, marriage is a high value to women. But "attitudes and behaviour widespread in families and in society often excluded the disabled girls from the opportunity of getting married. Families often assume that a disabled daughter will not marry at all" (CCC, 2006, p. 26; Rousso, 2003, p. 7). Interestingly, it was found by Moreira (2011) that "neighbors, school teachers, and local authorities did not consider the verbal action as discriminatory but as ordinary jokes to recognize the existence or presence of the children with disabilities, giving them a place in society" (pp. 92-94).

It was interestingly found that people with disabilities were seldom visited by other people; or even invited to participate in community ceremonies or development activities due to several reasons that they were physically unable to participate, too young to participate, and not invited or encouraged to participate (CCC, 2006, pp. 27-28). In addition, disability is a source of stigma that can lead to the devaluation of the whole family, and that is the reason why the CwDs are not only denied access to school but they are also hidden away, restricted to their homes, and locked up or tied with ropes by their parents or relatives to avoid insults or causing shame to the family (Rousso, 2003, p. 7; Moreira, 2011, p. 54). Moreira (2011) continued saying that "pregnant women are also advised to display pictures of beautiful children in their bedrooms and avoid any contact with PwDs because of the belief that the child they are expecting could get some kind of imperfection or disability" (p. 67).

Moreira (2011) continued adding that "not only CwDs are subject to discrimination, but also their families, especially mothers who are seen as directly responsible for, even the cause of, their children's situation" (pp. 94-95); this is the reason that some "parents may ignore the situation of their CwDs in order to avoid social discrimination within the community" (p. 45).

Most parents tried their best to find curable ways for their disabled children but when s/he was not better or became worse and worse the parents had feeling or believed that "their child had a disability because of karma associated with past lives, and none of them stated that this was reason to neglect the child's current needs in this lifetime" (VanLeit, Channa, & Rithy, 2007, p. 64).

Discrimination against CwDs remains still in Cambodia. It is a widespread stigma in society which prevents CwDs from as fully participates as possible in any kinds of social activities. It was stated that "name-calling and making fun of CwDs can lower CwDs' self-esteem and serves to isolate them from others. For some children, their defense mechanism was to drop out of the school and avoid social interaction with other people" (Moreira, 2011, p. 54; CCC, 2006, p. 10).

Life of disability is a tragedy. People would donate to PwDs because they think that PwDs need more support, and rely on others as stated in CCC (2006) that "PwDs are objects of pity in need of help, care and protection. This model sustains the view that PwDs are dependent, without the capacity to become equal members of society or to contribute economically and socially to their community's development" (p. 11).

2.3 Definition and Key Terms

There are three key terms Special Education, Integrated Education and Inclusive Education need to be clearly defined.

2.3.1 What is Special Education?

Special Education [SE] is the provision of extra help, assistance, adapted programs, learning environments, specialized equipment or materials to support learners with difficulties to participate in education. It is designed to ensure that learners with disabilities are provided with an environment that allows them to be educated effectively. So far, there is no universally agreed definition for such concepts as special needs education. The category covered by the terms special needs education, special educational needs, and special education is broader than education of children with disabilities, because it includes children with other needs - for example, through disadvantages resulting from gender, ethnicity, poverty, war trauma, or becoming an orphan. In this model education may take place in a range of settings - such as special schools and centers, special classes in integrated schools or regular classes in mainstream schools - following the principle of the least restrictive environment.

According to Stubbs (2002) "special education assumes that there is a separate group of children who have 'special educational needs' and are often called 'special needs children"(p. 23). To her, the special education believes that everything is special for the special children; and it aims to make the child normal rather than respecting his/her own particular strengths and characteristics (Stubbs, 2002, p. 23).

What is Integrated Education?

When we talk about Integrated Education or integration, we might think about the integration of learners with difficulties into a school or class which they were not previously accepted. Integration provides only "part-time" inclusion, which prevents the students from becoming full members of the classroom community. In Integrated Education, the system remains the same, and the child must try to adapt or fail to fit it. According to Stubbs (2002) "the term integrated education is most commonly used to describe the process of bringing children with disabilities into a mainstream school" (p. 24). She added that the Integrated Education or Integration is different from Inclusive Education because "the Integration Education is still focusing on the individual child, not the system. The child is seen as the problem, and must be made 'ready' for integration, rather than the school being made ready" (Stubbs, 2002, p. 24).

2.3.3 What is Inclusive Education?

Before going into details of argument on meaning of Inclusive Education, it would be much better to know first its history. The Inclusive Education was started in "the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948" (Stubbs, 2002, p.10), then the "World Declaration on Education for All, adopted in Jomtien, Thailand (1990) which focuses on universalizing access to education for all children, youth and adults, and promoting equity" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 12; Stubbs, 2002, p. 12). Next is in the "Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education in 1994 where the principle of inclusive education was first endorsed as an international guideline to provide educational services for children with disabilities" (MoEYs, 2012, pp. 6-5; UNESCO, 2009a, p. 12; Stubbs, 2002, p. 12; Inclusion International, 2003; UNESCO, 2005 as cited in Kalyanpur, 2011, p. 1). Soon after, in April 2000, the World Education Forum meeting was made in Dakar which declared that Education for All must take account of the needs of the poor and the disadvantaged (UNESCO, 2009b, p.8; Stubbs, 2002, pp. 11-12). Then, the "Biwako Millennium Framework on Social Inclusion with Barriers Free and Basic Rights for disabled people in Asia-Pacific in 2003" (MoEYs, 2012, pp.6-5) re-emphasizing the inclusive education as a right and appropriate educational option for children with disabilities and the "Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, adopted in 2006, which advocates for inclusive education, and recent legislation to protect indigenous languages, both provide further international support for inclusive education" (MoEYs, 2012, pp. 6-5; UNESCO, 2009b, p.9). The "priority activities stated are to identify children with disabilities, provide them education, build schools and provide them assistive devices according to types of disabilities" (MoEYs, 2012, p. 6).

The Inclusive Education is different from Integrated Education and Special Education as Stubbs (2002) mentioned in her study that "IE is about focusing on and changing the education system, whilst Integrated Education and Special Education are about focusing on and changing the child" (p. 44). The inclusion is not the same as mainstreaming or integration because mainstreaming attempts to move students from special education classrooms to regular education classrooms, while integration provides a part-time inclusion which prevents the students from becoming full members of the classroom community (Carter, 2009, pp. 13-14).

It was written in ADB (2010) that "the original focus of inclusive education was on education for the needs of learners with disabilities with trying to ensure that the needs of such learners were recognized and responded to by the education system" (p. 3). MoEYs (2009) also contributes that "Inclusive Education is the inclusion of children with disabilities into formal and no-formal education regardless of diversities" (p. 17). According to WHO (2011) "a stricter sense of inclusion is that all CwDs should be educated in regular classrooms with age-appropriate peers. IE entails identifying and removing barriers and providing reasonable accommodation, enabling every learner to participate and achieve within mainstream settings" (pp. 209-210). Hence, the Inclusive Education means to put CwDs with their age-appropriate friends in the same class/school while they also receive another special designed instruction and support in order to achieve high standards and succeed as learners (Carter, 2009, pp. 13-14).

In contrast, Inclusive Education [IE] or inclusion is not only about integrating CwDs into regular classrooms, but "to cover all barriers to education by transforming education systems and learning environments, get them to welcome and respond to difference and diversity, and genuinely achieve EFA" (ADB, 2010, p. 4), and also many other different marginalized groups of children because it is a part of a wider strategy to promote an inclusive society (Stubbs, 2002, p. 21). The IE is a central issue to the achievement of high quality education for all learners and the development of more inclusive societies; and it is essential to achieve social equity and is a constituent element of lifelong learning (Stubbs, 2002, pp. 11-44; UNESCO, 2009b, p. 4).

Inclusive Education is about the whole education transformation, "making curriculum flexible, and responds to individual needs of all learners" (WHO, 2011, p. 215). IE means that "school systems must change to meet the needs of all learners regardless of their strengths or weaknesses" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 12) and it must "ensure that they not only have access to, but are welcomed in schools where diversity is expected and valued, and their needs are met in appropriate, flexible teaching and learning environments" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 4). Thus, inclusive schools are fully accessible to all pupils by improving schools, making it become flexible and respond to diversity. IE creates an effective classroom environment where learners' needs are met.

Thus, it can be said that Inclusive Education is not only about including CwDs into schools but all marginalized groups. It is about changing school systems to be flexible to cater all children; respond to the needs of all learners regardless of their strength and weaknesses. It will also provide to all students equitable opportunities to receive effective educational services, with the needed supplementary aids and support services, in age appropriate classrooms in their neighborhood schools, in order to prepare students for productive lives as full members of society.


Figure 1: Special, Integrated and Inclusive Education (Stubbs, 2002, p. 25)

2.4 Why need to have inclusive education?

"Children with disabilities have faced many challenges in education. Three of the most serious involve institutionalized are discrimination, stigmatization, and neglect, from the classroom to the local community and in the home" (UNESCO, 2010, p. 182). They are often isolated in within their societies and communities because of a mixture of shame, fear and ignorance about the causes and consequences of their impairment. These challenges are long-term and widespread stigma, direct and indirect discrimination, excluded from education and social activities. They have been prevented from accessing rights that are freely available to other members of society; have also been denied access to the disability-specific services that they need in areas such as early intervention and rehabilitation. "Disability is one of the least visible but most potent factors in educational marginalization. Beyond the immediate health-related effects, physical and mental impairment carries a stigma that is often a basis for exclusion from society and school" (UNESCO, 2010, p. 181). It was interestingly found that "children with disabilities arguably form the largest group of readily identifiable children who have been and continue to be persistently excluded from education" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 7) and "there were children (0-14 years) living with disabilities range between 93 million and 150 million. Many children and adults with disabilities have historically been excluded from mainstream education opportunities" (WHO, 2011, p. 205). In Cambodia, children with disabilities are "the poorest of the poor" (Carter, 2009, p. 7); "remain one of the most vulnerable groups" (World Vision, 2004 as cited in Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 6); and "they typically share the profile of the general poor in Cambodia. However, because of their disabilities they are more vulnerable to poverty, and have fewer opportunities to escape poverty than the non-disabled poor" (Thomas, 2005, p. 26). They are "the least likely to be in school" (World Vision, 2004 as cited in Kalyanpur, et al., 2007); and the last ones to be included and taken into account of the development goals of the country. It is remarkably noticed that "the gap in school participation between children with and without disabilities is twice as high as the gaps associated with rural residence, wealth and gender" (Filmer, 2005 as cited in Kalyanpur, et al., 2007). There are many different types of disabilities, and each of them needs special and different intervention. Children with disabilities are also human beings like able children. They have rights as every people do, and also their special rights as children with disabilities. "The rights of persons with disability are therefore reaffirmed in every international human rights treaty" (Heng, Piseth, & Kanika, 2010, p. 9) and it should be globally noticed that "inclusion of CwDs in regular schools - inclusive schools - is widely regarded as desirable for equality and human rights" (WHO, 2011, p. 210). "Government, schools, and community should understand clearly that CwDs, together with all children, have a basic right to education. It is the responsibility of the government to fulfill this right for all children, including CwDs" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 9). According to WHO (2011), disability is a human rights issue because "PwDs experienced inequalities; are subject to violations of dignity; and are denied autonomy" (p. 9). Article 31 of Education Law addressed "rights to access schooling to every citizen of at least 9 years in public schools free of charge" (MoEYS, 2007, p. 18); and article 38 and 39 of the same law addressed "encouragement and promotion to have special education specifically regarding the rights of the learners with disabilities to learn with the able children and provide a special education service for learners with disabilities" (MoEYS, 2007, pp. 22-23). The "CwDs have the same right to education as all other children; and they have a special right to be educated in regular inclusive schools that responds to the diversity of their abilities" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 16).

Therefore, children with disabilities shall be given equal access to education to until at least they can help themselves and have small income to support their own lives, and not rely on others because "…income generation for children with disabilities not only contributes to establish a sense of dignity and self-confidence among them, but is also directly linked to reduce poverty and stimulate development" (JICA, 2002, p. 10). Hence, what can give CwDs the opportunities to have knowledge and skills in order to have jobs to make small income in their lives? It is only schooling. Stubbs (2002) said that "if educating all children, reducing poverty and developing tolerance and respect for diversity are important, then, IE is a priority. If it is not prioritized, it is much more difficult and expensive to develop a complex infrastructure" (p. 44).

Schools or education institution providers and curriculum need to be appropriate, flexible for them. It was also stated Stubbs (2002) that in order to "attract and retain children from marginalized and excluded groups, education systems should respond flexibly. It must be inclusive, actively seeking out children who are not enrolled, and responding flexibly to the circumstances and needs of all learners" (p. 12). In addition, the awareness on disabilities needs to be spread in schools; no discrimination and stigma. If there is still so, CwDs might face with staying out of schools and remain uneducated because it is found that "the types of disabilities require special services that are typically not available in Cambodian schools. Stigma and discrimination also appear to play a role in keeping children out of school" (VanLeit, Channa, & Rithy, 2007, p. 54).

Therefore, Cambodian see that disable persons are the most vulnerable and the last ones to be included, feel pity on them and "prefer to donate to charities or give to the poor or beggars with disabilities" (JICA, 2002, p. 8). Education is very important as "it has a key role to play in changing attitudes" (UNESCO, 2010, p. 181); and "is an instrumental for participating in employment and other areas of social activity. In some cultures, attending school is part of becoming a complete person" (WHO, 2011, p. 205). Thus, doing Inclusive Education is very crucial as "it is a process of strengthening the capacity of the education system to reach out to all learners and can thus be understood as a key strategy to achieve EFA" (UNESCO, 2009b, p. 8). It was stated in UNESCO (2009a) that "inclusive schools would benefit all children as they developed ways of teaching responding to individual differences and diverse abilities. They would be cost-effective, removing the need for separate schools systems for CwDs" (p. 15). Once Inclusive Education is built in schools, it will "eliminate discriminatory attitudes, create welcoming communities, build an inclusive society and achieve education for all, address and respond to the diversity of all children through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and reducing exclusion within and from education" (UNESCO, 2009b, pp. 8-9; ADB, 2010, pp. 5-6). The WHO (2011) contributed that "institutions and organizations also need to change - in addition to individuals and environments - to avoid excluding people with disabilities" (p. 6).

"The long-term objective of the National Strategic Development Plan [NSDP] 2006-2010 seeks to ensure that all Cambodian children and youth have equal opportunities to receive a quality education, regardless of social status, geography, ethnicity, religion, language, gender or disability" (Royal Government of Cambodia [RGC], 2006 as cited in Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 8 ).

The government, concern ministries, has made laws and policies to support the Inclusive Education in Cambodia. In 2007, Education Law and Child Friendly School Policy were printed, then, in 2008, the Policy on Education for Children with Disabilities was designed in order to serve children having difficulty with daily life activities that may interfere with their development like non-disabled children. The Law of the protection and the promotion of the rights of persons with disability was first published in 2009. Article 27, 28, 29 of the law of the protection and the promotion of the rights of persons with disability addressed "rights of disabilities to receive education; duty of state to develop national policies and strategies of education for CwDs; and responsibilities of ministry in charge of education to provide accessible facilities for CwDs with regard to educational needs" (MoSVY, 2009, pp. 7-8). Article 30 and 31 of the same law tried to push Ministry in charge of Education to "pay special attention to the educational needs of CwDs; include causes of disabilities, disability prevention and the value of CwDs into the mainstream education programs sensitization and to train teachers on disability and teaching methodology on teaching CwDs" (MoSVY, 2009, p. 8). The Inclusive Education is implementing in Cambodia as mentioned in Kalyanpur, et al. (2007) that "in 1999, DAC, with funding from UNICEF, implemented the first initiative on inclusive education for children with disabilities in one cluster school in Svay Rieng province and has currently rolled out to 11 provinces" (p. 11) whilst Carter (2009) wrote that "in 2000, MoEYs, in collaboraboration with UNICEF and the Disability Action Council [DAC], implemented an Inclusive Education pilot project in Svay Rieng province, which has now been expanded to 15 provinces, 15 districts, 14 clusters schools, and 80 schools" (pp. 13-14 ).

Reasons of doing inclusive education were found based on various studies in different institutions. According to ADB (2010), the reasons of doing IE are "to improve the efficiency and cost-benefit of education system; promote economic, social, and political development; promote social cohesion and inclusion; fulfill internationally mandated goals (EFA goals and the MDGs); and to realize a human right" (pp. 7-11). The UNESCO (2009b) found that there are three justi¬cations of doing IE: "educational justi¬cation means to develop ways of teaching responding to all diversities; social justi¬cation means to change attitudes toward diversity by educating all children together; and economic justi¬cation aims to reduce cost in maintaining schools that educate all children" (UNESCO, 2009b, p. 9).

The WHO (2011) stated in its report that there are four main reasons of implementing IE

1). Education contributes to human capital formation and is thus a key determinant of personal well-being and welfare. 2). Excluding CwDs from educational and employment opportunities has high social and economic costs. 3). Countries cannot achieve Education for All or the Millennium Development Goal of universal completion of primary education without ensuring access to education for children with disabilities. 4). Countries that are signatories to the CRPD cannot fulfill their responsibilities under Article 24. (WHO, 2011, p. 205)


Difference valued: gender, age, disability, ethnicity, linguistic groups

Active Participation by All

Discrimination not tolerated


District Resource Teams and Centers

Parents Involved

DPOs involved

Families supported

Signing Groups, Braille centers

Early Childhood education. Non-formal programs

CBR Program, Home-based education


Flexible, child centred teaching

All pupils valued

Responsive to diversity

Disabled Teachers welcomed

Figure 2: Towards the Goal of INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT (Stubbs 2002, p. 27)

2.5 Challenges children with disability face in school, at home and in community

Children with disabilities have faced many challenges, discrimination and stigma since they were born and it can be occurred everywhere, in schools, at home and in communities. As mentioned earlier, in the introduction of this study, the Education for All [EFA] means to provide education to all people regardless of their diversities. Everyone, including children with disabilities, has the same and equal rights to receive education in their lives within their communities but still there are barriers preventing children with disabilities not to have full participation in school and communities. According to CDPO's annual report (2008) as cited in Moreira (2011), "people with disabilities are still excluded from community development projects. This translates into exclusion from other basic human rights, such as access to basic education and vocational training, employment, and electoral franchise" (pp. 53-54). "The concept of inclusive education has been promoted internationally for more than a decade, but multiple barriers remain to the full participation of children with disabilities in education" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 5). Children with disabilities in remote areas were particularly disadvantaged as it was found that "transportation systems may be inaccessible to children with mobility and other types of disabilities unless assisted by friends or family" (Drieger, 1998 as cited in Rousso, 2003, p. 15), while "road condition" contributes another great challenge for travelling to school of rural children with disabilities" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 29). VanLeit, Channa, & Rithy (2007) also contributed that "problems with transportation, teachers not knowing how to teach CwDs, difficulties with accessibility, lack of special equipment, expenses associated with school, sickness, pain, a need for the child to help with work around the house, and discrimination" (p. 61) are the reasons given for not attending schools of CwDs, while UNESCO (2009a) contributed that "negative attitudes and systems, and societies that discriminate against CwDs" (p. 16) are another barriers which keep CwDs out-of-school.

Furthermore, "distance to school constitutes an educational barrier for children with disabilities" (Rousso, 2003, p. 14; Moreira, 2011, p. 84), while "money constraints, and the belief that CwDs was unlikely to benefit from an education" were another barrier to schooling" (Moreira, 2011, p. 84). This was mostly true for some of the rural families living far away from the main villages and public schools, whose geographic location did not encourage them to bring their child with disabilities to schools. The UNESCO (2009a) addressed the "lack of information, combined with discriminatory attitudes towards persons with disabilities at all levels of society, contributes to the continued neglect of their right to education" (p. 5) whilst Kalyanpur, et al. (2007) found the "lack of awareness of disability is a big barrier to education. One of the barriers identified that made policy planning for children with disabilities difficult was the lack of data on prevalence rates" (p. 24).

In order to participate in school "students with disabilities may need sign language interpreters, opportunities to learn Braille, modification/flexibility in teaching methods and assistive devices, as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and other related services" (Rousso, 2003, pp. 18-19) but "the particular needs of CwDs are frequently not met. There may be limited coordination between ministries of health, education and NGOs in providing early identification and intervention to CwDs and their families" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 69). "Many schools and other educational facilities are inaccessible to students with physical disabilities or motor impairments and access codes and standards, where they exist, are not enforced" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 70; Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 9; Rousso, 2003, p. 17) because there is no ramp, handrail, locked toilet, inappropriate desks and tables in schools, thus, it can be said that "the present school environment does not facilitate integration" (JICA, 2002, p. 11). Besides, it was shared that "insufficient physical access, shortages of trained teachers and limited provision of teaching aids can diminish opportunities. Many schools, particularly in remote rural areas or in slums, are physically inaccessible to some children with disabilities" (Lang and Murangira, 2009 as cited in UNESCO, 2010, p. 182).

Presently, "the educational programs for persons with disabilities have been implemented solely by NGOs and focus on children with disabilities" (JICA, 2002, p. 11); and "the educational opportunity for them is still minimal. They experience a lack of accessibility, appropriate support, and encouragement from their families and community. They also face marginalization and discrimination" (JICA, 2002, p. 22). Globally, many children with disabilities continue to be discriminated against. It was noticed that, in some schools, teachers and school directors will not allow CwDs to come to school or advised parents of children with disabilities not to bring their child with disabilities to study because "they believed that the children would require more special care and attention or require modifications that the teacher has no time for, or the school cannot afford to provide and become an additional burden for the teachers" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 30; Moreira, 2011, p. 54). In addition, "the teachers felt they did not know how to help children with disabilities because they did not have the skills or techniques" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 31). According to Moreira (2011), "this opinion is widespread among teachers who are not informed about the rights of children with intellectual disabilities" (p. 54).

Besides, in many cases, parents did not send their disabled child or children to school because "the child was in poor health or needed special care and there would be no one to look after the child at school" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 33), and because "the CwDs feel embarrassed and uncomfortable when others stare. In some cases some CwDs do not wish to go to the school because of a fear of being teased by other children, classmates or neighbors" (CCC report, 2006 as cited in Moreira, 2011, p. 54). Sometimes, CwDs themselves did not want to come to school because they "were afraid of being teased" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 30) by other people. In sometimes and some places, children with disabilities had access to schools, but they "had no access to assistive devices because they could not afford them and poverty forced many CwDs to drop out of school" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 29). For some other cases, the children with disabilities still remain in schools but they faced with many challenges. Some of them complained that they were treated "just like the other non-disabled children" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 33) which meant that the teachers hit them, sat them in the middle or last row of the class, and did not make any corrections in their works. Moreover, teachers' writing on the blackboard were very small which make them could not read or copy.

All through the world, people with disabilities have faced with discrimination and stigma. In Cambodia, it was found that "teasing and name-calling is common. Family members and the wider community routinely call disabled children names related to their disability rather than the names given to them by their parents" (Thomas, 2005, p. 7). Mostly, in Cambodia, it was found children with severe disabilities are excluded, hidden away, given less food, living without clothes, unwashed, tied up and not allowed to get married (Thomas, 2005, p. 7). It is commonly believed that disability is a source of stigma which can lead to the depreciation of the whole family. Hence, the "CwDs are not only denied access to school, but they are also hidden away, restricted to their homes, and locked up or tied with ropes by their parents or relatives to avoid insults or causing shame to the family" (Rousso, 2003, p. 7; Moreira, 2011, p. 54). "All the disabled people spoke of some degree of isolation and exclusion from community social events" (Thomas, 2005, p. 29). It was found that "friends, neighbors, monks or lay-people rarely or never visit children with disabilities" (Thomas, 2005, p. 29) because they are afraid that "children with disabilities may be able to transmit bad Karma to them and render them vulnerable" (Moreira, 2011, p. 67). This "social discrimination may lead the family and community to some actions that affect the rights and the livelihood of children or people with disabilities" (Moreira, 2011, p. 53).

Generally, it was found majority of public building entrance and exit are inaccessible to persons with disabilities (JICA, 2002, p. 10). Most of the toilets are frequently located on higher floor in small cubicles and do not have support handles. Having the similar problems is seen in public buildings with multiple levels as they typically have several flights of stairs.

2.6 Challenges parents of children with disabilities face

It is not only children with disabilities faced with challenges in their lives but also their parents. The challenges faced by parents of children with disabilities are "difficult to care for child, no time to earn money, lack of independence, poor living conditions, lack of health care, and food shortage" (Carter, 2009, p. 46).

The CCC (2006) found that "adequacy of the household labor force to meet the productive and reproductive needs of the household and their capacity to raise money to pay for the health costs of their disabled members" (p. 21) were other challenges that parents of CwDs faced. Principally, they all were rice farmers, thus, households often had to borrow money or sell assets to generate the cash needed. Hereafter, having a CwDs in the family will make parents spending more times to take care of them and can lead the family to higher expenditure and debt in paying for their treatment as stated in (Asian Development Bank [ADB] as cited in Moreira, 2011, p. 53).

2.7 Challenges teachers of children with disabilities face

Globally, the concept of inclusive education has been promoted for decades. Each country needs to be ready to achieve EFA by 2015, but it seems that Cambodia still stays far behind the goal of education because "it was conservatively estimated that less than 10 per cent of children with disabilities in developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region are in schools" (UNESCO, 2009a, p. 5) even if Kalyanpur, et al. (2007) wrote that "the IE for CwDs was first initiated in 1999, in one cluster school in Svay Tieb district in Svay Rieng province by DAC funded from UNICEF" (p. 11) and Carter (2009) addressed the "IE was established in 2000 by DAC collaborated with MoSVY, UNICEF, CDPO, and MoEYS. This project was started at a primary school in the province of Svay Rieng" (pp. 13-14). In Cambodia, children with disabilities still have very limited access to their local community schools. In many cases teachers do not know how to adapt the curriculum and their teaching methods so that CwDs can participate in all the lessons and other activities. Many schools lack the assistive devices and materials. Lack of clear information and statistic of disability in the country, remaining still the discriminatory attitudes towards persons with disabilities at all levels of society, contributes to the continued neglect of their right to education, not train teachers to teach CwDs and not well disseminate the policy of inclusive education are the main factors preventing CwDs from having full participation in education and social activities in the country.

"Schools and teachers in Cambodia are not equipped to teach children with disabilities" (CCC, 2006, p. 11), and currently, "there is no standard curriculum available in Khmer for teachers of children with special needs" (Carter, 2009, p. 68). Moreover, Cambodia still "lack of special education services, teachers, and materials for education for children with disabilities" (KPF workshop as cited in Carter, 2009, p. 42). Presently, the government does not take any initiative in developing structure for training teachers to work specifically with CwDs besides the training provided by NGOs even if there is need to have more special education teachers (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 25).

Starting "in 2006, the pre-service teacher training curriculum was overhauled to include all six dimensions of Child Friendly Schools [CFS] curriculum, including inclusive education" (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 36). The CFS curriculum which is a part of a toolkit for creating inclusive, learning-friendly environments (ILFE) was also trained to in-service teachers to work with various populations of children including children with disabilities (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 19). In 2005-2006, through PAP and funding from UNICEF and UNESCO, the Teacher Training Department trained 33,910 education officials and teachers, 892 primary teachers and 2,855 pre-service teachers (Kalyanpur, et al., 2007, p. 36). But it was found in a study of Heng, Piseth, & Kanika (2010) that "at present, there is a gap in the dissemination of awareness and knowledge of the ECWD Policy. MoEYS Officials and School Directors have more knowledge of the policy than school teachers" (p. 16) while Moreira (2011) found that "most of the teachers interviewed were aware of the IE policy, but they were not well-prepared to include CwDs in a regular classroom whilst some other teachers do not have skills to teach CwDs and are worried about them" (Moreira, 2011, p. 85). Some teachers who used to be trained on Inclusive Education "may not have time or resources to support disabled learners. In some cases, classrooms are frequently overcrowded and there is a severe shortage of special needs teachers" (WHO, 2011, p. 215).

In conclusion, this chapter contains a lot of information on the current situation of disabilities in Cambodia and its definition, types and causes. Moreover, it also showed the different perceptions of community on CwDs which were mostly based on cultural belief. Through this, we can see that discrimination against CwDs remains still in the Cambodian communities. Additionally, meaning of the most three important key terms "Special Education, Integrated Education and Inclusive Education" were clearly defined by many scholars. It was also stated that doing IE is very important as it can help build inclusive and more welcoming society. Finally, this chapter also found that not only children with disabilities have faced with challenges in their lives but also their parents and teachers.