What has gone wrong with inclusive education in Thailand?

Published date01 May 2016
AuthorTheeraphong Bualar
Date01 May 2016
Practitioner Paper
What has gone wrong with inclusive
education in Thailand?
Theeraphong Bualar*
Department of Public Administration, School of Political Science and Law, Burapha University, Chonburi, Thailand
This article critically reviews the inclusive education policy in Thailand. Since 1939, the Thai government has
promoted the right of persons with disabilities to education. However, very little is known about the reasons why
the inclusive education policy in Thailand has failed to motivate school-aged children to participate in mainstream
schools. This article argues that (i) the government has no coherent policy implementation; (ii) school teachers are
not well trained to deal with students with disabilities; and (iii) universal design is not well placed. These three major
factors have hindered the Thai government in its efforts to empower persons with disabilities through education.
Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
It is estimated that over one billion of the worlds
population live with disabilities (World Health
Organization (WHO) 2011). Unfortunately, disabil-
ity has negatively affected the socio-economic status
of hundreds of millions of families worldwide, and
one area that is most affected is educational
achievement. Reportedly, one third of the worlds
education-deprived children live with disabilities
[United Nations Educational, Scientic and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO), 2010]. Disability and
marginalization in education are interwoven and
inextricably linked with development. Children
with disabilities from low-income countries have
experienced greater schooling exclusion than those
from rich countries (Mitra et al., 2011). Despite
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) requiring
equal opportunity in school participation, children
with disabilities continue to be left behind
(UNESCO, 2010).
The concept of inclusive education is highlighted
in many disability rights declarations at the global
level. Such concept aims to educate students with
impairments in the same classes as those who are
non-disabled. Inclusive education can be further
explained using a rights-based approach. This
approach has been well received because it precisely
corresponds to the theme of human development
that ensures entitlement to socio-economic re-
sources (Sen, 2000) and appears to be the way
forward for inclusive education. School-aged chil-
dren with disabilities have the right to be involved
in wider society. Inclusive education by the rights-
based approach entails capacity building among
students with disabilities to transform them into
meaningful contributors to society.
This approach implies the concepts of protection,
respect, facilitation and fullment. If inclusive edu-
cation is conducted using this approach, the school
participation rate will become greater and account-
ability will be encouraged, while obligation and
monitoring at all levels of society will safeguard
the rights of students with disabilities to appropri-
ate education. It can be best argued that inclusive
education helps establish a relationship between
students with disabilities and students without
However, appropriate education for people with
disabilities requires considerable socio-economic re-
sources from communities and government at all
levels. Consequently,entit lement to effective inclusive
*Correspondence to: Theeraphong Bualar, Department of Public
Administration, School of Political Science and Law, Burapha
University, 169 Longhard Road, Saen Sook, Muang District,
Chonburi, Thailand 20131.
E-mail: thiraphong@yahoo.com
Journal of Public Affairs
Volume 16 Number 2 pp 156161 (2016)
Published online 14 April 2015 in Wiley Online Library
(www.wileyonlinelibrary.com) DOI: 10.1002/pa.1563
Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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