For inclusion to be effective, it is generally agreed that regular teachers should be receptive to the principles and demands of inclusion. This study was to investigate attitudes of 561 Vietnamese regular teachers towards inclusive education (IE) of students with disabilities at 24 lower secondary inclusive project schools funded by INGOs across Vietnam. The study was carried out following quantitative approach based on a survey design using self-administered questionnaire as the sole instrument.
The results indicated that the lower secondary teachers had both positive and negative attitudes towards IE of students with disabilities. These attitudes varied when it comes to the issues of how they understood the general philosophy of inclusion and their perceived ability to teach students with disabilities. The finding suggested that teachers agreed with the positive benefits of inclusion for students with disabilities. However the similar benefits for the students without disabilities were likely to cause disagreement among them. There seemed to be a contradiction when the teachers perceived that they had sufficient training and necessary expertise to teach students with disabilities. Nevertheless, they still expressed the needs for extensive re-training for inclusion.
The inspections of possible influencing factors found that teachers’ attitudes were stronger influenced by the student-related factors than by the teacher-related factors. The latter indicated that the teachers, who had experience with students with disabilities since the INGO projects started, had less positive attitudes than those with experience before the project time. As for the student-related factors, the finding showed the fewer students with disabilities in regular classrooms, the more positive attitudes of teachers. The differences in the attitudes towards IE were found between the teachers having students with certain kinds of disabilities and teachers without experiences with those students. The environment-related factors were also predictors of differences in teacher’s attitudes to inclusion. The urban teachers tended to be more positive than those in the sub-urban and towns. The rural teachers were found to be the least positive towards inclusion. Across the country, the Southern teachers showed the most positive compared to their Central and Northern colleagues. Support evaluated by teachers was very low, which tended to affect teacher’s attitudes. Most of the analysis recognised the important role played by teacher education, especially the in-service training programmes provided by the INGO projects in bringing about the difference in the teachers’ attitudes towards IE as mentioned above.
It could be concluded that the teachers and their schools are at the changing phase to inclusive settings with focus on student-centred approach. Thus, it is not easy for them in such an early stage of IE implementation to avoid the culture and practice of the traditional whole-class teaching which serves the academic demands of the majority students without disabilities. The social outcomes of inclusion are perceived as the positive benefits only for students with disabilities. This exposes a requirement to teacher education programmes, which found to have an influence to teachers’ attitudes in this study, to put greater emphasis to building a vision of inclusion that does not relate merely to the inclusion of students with disabilities but to promote higher education quality for all students.