Preparing future teachers for inclusive education in Serbia: Current situation and needs
teacher competences for inclusive education
initial education of teachers
Theory and practice of education
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AbstractThe paper presents one part of the research for Serbia Country Report, conducted within the regional project of the European Training Foundation. The research was aimed at analyzing the current situation in initial education of teachers, i.e. preparation of teachers for inclusive education (IE), as well as the need for introducing changes in the initial education curricula, leading towards a more efficient development of competences for working with all students needing additional support for learning and social participation. Qualitative research methodology was used. Data were collected via: analysis of documents comprising curricula of basic studies of five educational/teacher education faculties in Serbia with respect to IE preparation; three focus groups with teachers; and thirty-one interviews with other participants in the education system - principals of primary schools, school psychologists, university educators, decision-makers in education, NGO representatives and moderators of in-service teacher training programmes. Analysis of initial education curricula indicated that these do not contribute to the development of competences and preparation of teachers for inclusive education. The basic obstacles to preparation for IE perceived by research participants include inadequate curricula, dysfunctional professional practice and negative attitudes of university educators towards IE. The concluding part points out that the key factors for changes in initial education comprise sufficient motivation of university educators, awareness about the responsibility of the faculty to teach in accordance with the IE concept, as well as the support to these faculties through wide social action. The implications for enhancement of initial education of teachers refer to introducing changes into study programmes and implementing the strategies identified in practice, leading towards more effective preparation of teachers for IE.