Divya Dawadia and Kerry Bissakerb
a b Flinders University, Australia
(Received 27 March 2020, Final revised version received 30 December 2020)
Nepal’s Early Childhood Education and Development (ECED) programs are designed to support young children’s holistic development including a focus on physical, emotional, social, moral and intellectual development. They are also designed to support children’s successful transition to school. As such, inclusion of children with disabilities in these ECED programs would appear to be an important early intervention strategy for this already marginalised group. However, while inclusion of these children in ECED programs is viewed as desirable by the government and communities, in reality, it is not widespread. This research examined the reasons for the lack of inclusion of children with disabilities in the ECED programs with the aim of constructing a stakeholder-informed framework that would serve as a foundation for increasing enrolment of children in ECED programs. Through interviews, focus group discussions with key stakeholders and document reviews, it became evident that several contextual and organisational factors interacted to create multiple barriers to successful inclusion. Contextual factors included spirituality, caste, ethnicity, language, economic status and geographic location. Organisational factors included policy, attitudes, teacher efficacy, resources, coordination and communication processes and parental engagement. The identification of these factors by stakeholders provides an opportunity to develop a framework in which these factors can be explicitly addressed, and policy and strategic resourcing to address current barriers to the inclusion of children with disabilities in ECED programs in Nepal. This action is critical to ensuring increased numbers of young children with disabilities access early intervention and education programs to support their holistic development and the opportunities that education affords.
Keywords: early childhood education and development, disabilities, Nepal, inclusion framework.