Early childhood education in Ghana: teachers’ understanding and enactment of inclusion.
This study explored teachers’ understanding and enactment of Inclusion in Early Childhood Education (IECE) in Ghana. Inclusion theorises that, every child of school-going age must have access to quality education regardless of their cultural and socioeconomic dissimilarity. The keystone of the policy is to stimulate inclusion and lessen exclusions in the educational system. By utilising an interpretive qualitative multi-case study approach involving semi-structured interviews, observation, and photo-elicitation instruments, data from six study teachers was collected. The inductive thematic analysis method was used to interpret the data. Findings from the study revealed IECE was understood as the accommodation and merging of learners with disability with their mainstream peers in the same learning environment to reduce stigmatisation, segregation, and exclusionary practices. Disability was a major factor influencing Ghana’s IECE practices, more than equity issues, ability, and stage of child’s enrolment. Despite the progressive principles underpinning IECE, the enactment of the programmes is encountering challenges due to various debilitating factors such as the lack of educational resources, funding, inappropriate training programmes, and conservative cultural views towards children with disabilities. The study recommended that for a high level of IECE practice, the policy should be supported by effective and ongoing training, Government support by providing the required resources, clear policy guidelines, and employing teachers with knowledge and understanding IECE. For an IECE school to succeed, a culture mind shift must begin at the top, with a coherent understanding, shared vision throughout the entire staff, commitment, and best practices in teaching and learning throughout the whole school community. Teachers, policymakers, and other role-players in education should view IECE in the context of learners’ rights to education rather than focusing on disability problems associated with exclusion and segregation. The exploration concludes that, even though the enactment of IECE is fraught with impediments, it is a reasonable practice that should be enacted to achieve national objectives since IECE exposes children to information and skills which is vital for economic growth and confidence building. By meaningfully adopting IECE and enacting it successfully, the nation’s current and future human resource development, will be enhanced. building. By meaningfully adopting the IECE policy and enacting it successfully, the nation’s current and future human resource development, will be enhanced.
Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.