Perspectives on including students with disabilities in regular schools in India

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Douglas P. Biklen


Disabilities, Regular schools, India, Inclusion

Subject Categories

Education | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this study was to understand the meaning of inclusion in non-governmental regular schools in Madras (Chennai), India. To facilitate the understanding of inclusion, part of the study focused on the meaning of disabilities in regular schools. The study documented the perspectives and experiences of principals, teachers, peers, and students with disabilities in the "inclusive" context in 12 regular schools in Madras. The study was conducted using qualitative research methods. Data were collected through in depth interviews and participant observations. The study found that the meaning and implications of disabilities in regular schools were not solely determined from the clinical diagnosis or prior beliefs about disabilities. Rather, different ways of understanding disabilities occurred from interactions and the nature of relationships between individuals with and without disabilities in the context of schools. Students with physical and/or academic "problems" were more likely to be accepted than students perceived to have significant behavioral difficulties. What occurred within schools in terms of inclusion was influenced by culturally significant factors at home and in the larger society, such as collectivism, gender, and hierarchical nature of power distribution. Additionally, inclusion of students with disabilities was impacted by the situational conditions in traditional schools such as outdated pedagogy, shortage of resources, large class sizes, and vast and inflexible curricula.


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