Effective Use of Assistive Technologies for Inclusive Education in Developing Countries: Issues and challenges from two case studies

Developing countries face many obstacles in the process of implementing inclusive education (IE). Effective use of assistive technologies (AT) can help governments in developing countries achieve inclusive education by helping children with disabilities in schools. Despite the importance and positive impact of AT, prior research on the use of AT in inclusive education especially in developing countries is limited. To fill the research gap in this area, this paper investigates the research question of, How can AT be effectively used for IE in developing countries? To address this question, we conducted an in-depth case study of two developing countries, Bangladesh and Tanzania, and thoroughly reviewed existing IE projects around the world and other relevant literature. Three experts in the field and 18 informants of the two selected countries were interviewed in person, by phone or by email. The analysis of findings from interviews and literature review shows that obstacles to effective use of AT for IE come from three different levels – school, national, and network. Because AT is only part of the equation for a country to achieve IE, a high level national perspective is required and other related factors also need to be considered. We recommend governments in developing countries adopt a systematic approach in tackling obstacles at each level and pay attention to five management challenges: establishment and maintenance of professional networks: identification and maintenance of knowledge and expertise; funding management; coordination among ministries, and implementation, maintenance, and monitoring of a national program. Overall, governments are suggested to adopt a “network” approach that includes a constructive view of development drawing on incentives-based cooperation from all stakeholders. The results of this research shed light on the status quo of the use of AT for inclusive education in developing countries and provide useful guidance to parties who are interested in using assistive technologies to achieve inclusive education.

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