An INGO's implementation challenges of inclusive education in a developing country
Froese, Tammy Michelle
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The following thesis is an implementation study of an international non-governmental organization working in the field of inclusive education in Battambang, Cambodia. More specifically the study’s intent was to examine the political, economic and socio-cultural challenges experienced by the organization’s volunteers as they worked with local education partners in implementing inclusive education initiatives. Consideration was given to general education with emphasis on the implementation of gender mainstreaming initiatives at the primary level. Data was collected through participant interviews, formal observations, Follow-up questions completed by participants and various documents from the organization. The findings from the study revealed significant inconsistencies between the organization’s policy in gender equality and what was being implemented at the local level. Volunteers received little or no training in gender responsiveness, reported feelings of incapacity to engage in gender issues and failure to identify gender inequality in their development work. The volunteers and their working relationships with local education partners were a major theme in the findings; in particular the political challenges in navigating the agendas of various stakeholders. The organization’s support, information and expectations of volunteers were other issues raised by participants in the study. Among the economic challenges to implementation were working within the confines of international funding, the development of the organization’s budget, limited human resources, economic sustainability of programing and no funding for gender initiatives. Cultural challenges include volunteers’ perceptions of local views on education, the relationship between community and schools, gender equality embedded in the culture, school directors ‘losing face’ and awareness regarding gender issues.