Citizenship of pupils with intellectual disability in lower secondary schools in Norway
Sagen, Line Melboe
Department of Health- and Social Sciences Harstad University College Harstad, Norway
In Norway all children have the right to be educated in local public schools independent of having special needs or not. This paper is based on a PhD-project which focuses on the social situation and participation of pupils with intellectual disabilities in school. The purpose of this paper is to explore the citizenship of these pupils in school. The data are based on fieldwork comprising both interviews (N=56) and participant observations. Ten interviews with pupils with intellectual disabilities were carried out at seven secondary schools in different regions of Norway. Interviews were also carried out with their parents or guardians, employees at the pupils? schools and counsellors at the educational-psychological support services. The pupils attend special education schools, sections of special education at mainstream schools and mainstream schools. The interviews and field notes are analysed from a hermeneutic perspective.
The findings show that when it comes to citizenship, the informal participation of pupils with intellectual disability is much more extensive than the participation of their peers. For instance the disabled pupils have influence both on what their curriculum shall be, how to work with different subjects, and whether they stay in class or work on their own outside class. When it comes to formal participation in pupil democracy, the disabled pupils participate much less then their peers. Some pupils are not even allowed to attend. Furthermore the findings also shows that the employees pay quite a lot of attention to the disabled pupils well-being at the present (as ?beings?), and less attention to making good use of their potential and future possibilities (?becoming?). This imbalance is quite interesting since all pupils by Norwegian law have the right to develop their abilities and qualifications, at the same time as they have got the right to attend school environments that promote their well-being. These findings tell us something about the citizenship of these pupils.