Investigating Disability Inclusion in Turkey: An Exploratory Case Study

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Halis Sakiz


Turkey, like many other developing countries, is in a state of transition. The Turkish Disability Law was enacted in 2005 and led to a rapid increase in the number of disabled individuals and services provided for them in mainstream schools. However, questions have arisen regarding the quality of the services (Akdemir-Okta, 2008; Kargın, 2004; Saraç & Çolak, 2012; Sucuoglu & Kargın, 2006). This study attempted to examine factors that influence the degree to which students labelled as 'disabled' within the Turkish context (i.e. with medically diagnosed impairments) benefit from education in a mainstream school, while exploring how their inclusion was conceptualised and practised in the school.The thesis presents relevant contextual information on the Turkish school system, and drawing on national and international scholarship, examines some of the complex conceptual territory around notions of disability and inclusion. The approach to study design was pragmatic. Data collection and analysis were strongly oriented towards the qualitative paradigm (interview, observation and documents), with quantitative data employed mainly to test assumptions and aid interpretation (questionnaires).Findings showed that the conceptualisations of inclusion and disability varied significantly among stakeholders, with widely held negative views regarding the idea of educating disabled students in mainstream schools. Evidence highlighted that the school culture continued to be influenced by the segregated education system and that disabled students at the school could not benefit sufficiently from mainstream education in terms of extending their learning, promoting their development and, overall, facilitating their capabilities in any area of life in meaningful ways. Further, it was questionable whether the recent raft of policy has yet managed to establish a shared mission towards inclusion among educational institutions and stakeholders. Conflicting paradigms such as those promoting inclusion, segregated education and competition at the same time were in place in the education system.Findings of this study highlight the need for a contextual interpretation and implementation of inclusion, while they will be of interest to readers in other countries in a state of transition. The study presents a school-based working model to devise and implement inclusive practices, which encompasses key elements such as school management, collaboration and change. In conclusion, the study suggests (i) improvements in the current organization and management of mainstream schools in order to respond to the needs of disabled students, (ii) consideration of the contextual factors, in addition to personal factors, in the process of inclusion, and (iii) an approach which emphasizes the enhancement of the capabilities of disabled students and recognizes their right to decide on what these capabilities should be.


Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Charlotte Woods (Supervisor)
  • Judith Hebron (Supervisor)
Award date31 Dec 2015