THE FACTORS AFFECTING THE ATTITUDES OF FEMALE EMIRATI TEACHERS TOWARDS THE INCLUSION OF STUDENTS WITH INTELLECTUAL DISABILITIES IN THE GOVERNMENT PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN DUBAI IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

A. Alobeidli

The British University in Dubai (UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
This study investigates the factors affecting the attitudes of Emirati female teachers in the government primary schools in Dubai toward the inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities. The study seeks to fill a gap in the literature on teachers’ attitudes towards inclusive education and how these attitudes affect the implantation of inclusion in Dubai, UAE. The study has used a triangulation of methods including quantitative and qualitative methods such as a questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, observation and literature review. The study answered three research questions; the first one on identifying teachers’ attitudes, the second one on identifying factors affecting teachers’ attitudes and the last one on getting teachers’ recommendations to improve the current implementation of inclusions in their schools.

The findings of the study suggested that inclusive education in Dubai and the UAE in general needs improvement. The findings showed that most teachers in the study had negative attitudes towards inclusion in general. Many of them expressed clearly their disagreement to including children with intellectual disabilities in regular classes. Most participants believed that it was unfair to include students with intellectual disabilities as they were not advancing academically and were disadvantaged by suitable provisions. Many participants believed that these students were a burden on the teachers and were a source of disruption to the class. Most of the participants generally believed that these students should be educated in special schools or placed in special classes to be taught by special education teachers.

The findings showed that there are numbers of factors affecting these attitudes. One of the main factors was the lack of training as most of the participants did receive adequate training prior to the implementation of inclusion. Most of these teachers lack the knowledge of disabilities and the inclusive teaching techniques. Other factors also included the increasing teachers’ workload, the low teachers’ self-efficacy, the lack of school support and the insufficient resources and provisions. In addition, the type of disabilities and the social stigma also seemed to affect the teachers' attitudes as most of the participants preferred physical, sensory or mild disabilities than students with intellectual disabilities whom they believed to be the most difficult to include due to the low academic achievements and the challenging behaviour.

The study concluded that to have a successful inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities, the teachers’ attitudes towards inclusion need to be more positive as teachers are the key to a successful inclusive implementation. The study also provided a set of recommendations based on the findings. Some of these recommendations include providing teachers with extensive training and awareness on disabilities and inclusive teaching techniques. In addition, more adequate provisions need to be considered such as teaching aids, curriculum modifications, flexible teaching hours and less workload in addition to more school support and teachers’ incentives. The study, thus, suggests having better collaborative efforts by decision makers, schools and educators to promote teachers’ attitudes and help implement inclusion successfully in regular schools in Dubai.