This paper calls attention to the concept of quality education for children with disabilities in developing countries, specifically focusing on Mongolia. Quality education for children with disabilities has been overlooked by the international community despite the extensive commitment to ensuring access to basic education and learning outcomes for children (Croft, 2010). At the same time, influenced by the international community, inclusive education policies that bring children with disabilities into regular classrooms, have been introduced in many developing countries. While there have been some studies on inclusive education in the developing world, very little research has been conducted on the situation in Mongolia.
This paper therefore examines how teachers and parents in regular and special schools evaluate the current educational provisions in schools towards better education for children with disabilities in Mongolia. The findings from the descriptive analyses demonstrate that perceived barriers are ‘poor school facilities,’ ‘lack of equipment,’ ‘inadequate incentives for teachers’ and ‘insufficient school budgets.’ In addition to these items, teachers and parents in special schools are highly concerned about ‘lack of understanding in the community.’
Third, each of the four groups—teachers and parents in regular and special schools—perceive ‘resource barriers’ including issues of money and facilities as the strongest obstacle, followed by ‘teacher training and experience’ and ‘understanding’ at statistically significant levels. Fourth, there are statistically significant differences in opinions between parents and teachers in regular schools related to ‘resource barriers’ (with parents viewing the problem as more important). As for ‘teacher training and experience’ barriers, there is a significant difference between personnel in regular schools and special schools as parents and teachers in regular schools perceive that there is a lack of opportunity for training.
The last category of barriers evaluated is ‘understanding’ (referring to ‘lack of understanding by classmates,’ ‘lack of understanding by parents of children with disabilities,’ ‘lack of understanding by parents of children without disabilities’ and ‘lack of understanding by teachers’). Teachers in regular schools significantly feel strongest about the lack of understanding while parents in special schools significantly feel this least among all the groups. Qualitative data from interviews aligns with the statistical results and identifies that teacher training is unlikely to be effective without an appropriate teaching environment.
Based on the results of both statistical and interviewed data, the study highlights the needs for a comprehensive approach to strengthening coordination and collaboration with stakeholders and donor communities, which may eventually bring benefits to all children by improving the quality of schooling.
Keywords: quality education, inclusive education, disability, perception, parents and teachers, Mongolia