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Inclusive Education and the “Balkanization” / Professionalization of the Specialized Field of Studies in Special Education Postgraduate Programs: The Case of Sweden.

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Girma Berhanu
Publicerad i International Journal of Special Education
Volym 33
Nummer/häfte 4
Sidor 869-876
ISSN 0827-3383
Publiceringsår 2019
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik
Sidor 869-876
Språk en
Ämnesord Inclusion, Specialization, Special Education, Teacher Education Programs, Foreign Countries, Educational Policy, Educational Practices, Graduate Study, Neoliberalism, Professionalism, Educational Demand, Special Needs Students, Individualized Instruction, Classification, Educational Resources, Educational Planning
Ämneskategorier Utbildningsvetenskap


This short paper has two pronged purposes. The first is to reflect on policies and practices of inclusive education in Sweden and the second is to problematize the implications of the continuous proliferation of the specialized field of studies in Special Education postgraduate programs in Sweden. The current Swedish political and educational discourses reflect contradictions and dilemmas among varied dimensions of the educational arena. Policy and practice decisions involve dilemmas. Sweden may be characterized by an embodiment of a strong philosophy of universalism, equal entitlements of citizenship, comprehensiveness, and solidarity as an instrument to promote social inclusion and equality of resources. Within the past decades, however, the country has undergone a dramatic transformation. The changes are framed within neo-liberal philosophies such as devolution, market solutions, competition, effectivity, and standardization, coupled with a proliferation of individual/parent choices for independent schools, all of which potentially work against the valuing of diversity, equity and inclusion (Berhanu, 2011, 2016). The second concern of this paper is: Does the current specialization or diversified form of studies within Special Education postgraduate programs (Teacher Training Programs) support the inclusive agenda, or does it hamper the vision? In addition, recent developments to create new categories or subcategories of special education have the potential not only to tie up administrative and diagnostic resources but also to create an increasingly less manageable array of separate special education programs. This Balkanization process with regard to a number of select disorders has advantages and disadvantages. My concern is that the very existence of "highly specialized knowledge domains" may result in a new form of exclusion and segregation. This is a scenario that one can imagine or expect with the proliferation or balkanization of specialized studies in numerous strands unless we plan carefully as to how to utilize these skills and expertise within inclusive settings.

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