chapter  11
Inclusive education in Middle Eastern cultures: the challenge of tradition
Pages 26

This chapter examines inclusive education as it is practiced in certain Middle East countries. Central to this exploration is the tension between rapid modernization and the requirements of tradition that characterize social change in this region. Countries that have clearly articulated their ambitions to address inclusive practices in the schools are now facing the challenges of forging action from their own public policy. Having few of the precursors associated with inclusive practices emerging from Western countries, the effort to translate rhetoric into action involves confrontation with the bedrock values and beliefs of the region. While many of the basic cultural values and sentiments toward the disabled provide a wellspring of potential support for inclusive thinking, deeply rooted cultural beliefs and traditions pose obstacles that are difficult to overcome. To illustrate this intrinsic conflict within some Middle Eastern societies, the independent countries of Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait have been selected. While they share many of their cultural attributes with other countries in the Middle East, they possess economic and practical advantages for implementing social and educational innovations such as educational inclusion.