Research in developed countries has consistently demonstrated that training and experience are factors that strongly influence teacher attitudes toward inclusive education. Given the implications of this research for teacher-related policies on inclusive education in other countries, the present study seeks to empirically determine and verify the impact of training and experience in the developing country context. Surveys were conducted across Cambodia in February 2015 involving 448 teachers of children with and without disabilities, to find out how their training and experience influences their perspectives on how children with disabilities should be educated. Twenty-four were then selected for focus group interviews. A Pearson chi-square test was used to determine the statistical significance of (i) training on teaching children with disabilities, and (ii) experience in teaching children with disabilities, in teacher perceptions of inclusive education. Their perceptions were also analyzed by disability categories. Statistical analysis revealed that neither training nor experience in teaching children with disabilities significantly influences teacher perceptions of inclusive education in Cambodia. Qualitative responses pointed out that not only is the current cascade teacher training system ineffective in reaching out to all teachers, the message of inclusive education—its purpose and methods—is also not effectively transmitted to all teachers. The responses show that the lack of quality training and on-site support negatively affected their experience of teaching and meeting the educational needs of children with disabilities. The results also showed that the inclusion of severe sensory impaired children in such programs is perceived much more negatively in Cambodia as compared to developed countries. The findings of this study thus have implications for teacher training programs, their resources, and the support for teachers that is required to facilitate the inclusion of disabled students in the context of developing countries, particularly for those students with severe sensory impairment.
Keywords: Inclusive Education, disabilities, teacher attitudes, training and experience, developing countries