Inclusive Education and Children with Disabilities
Quality Education for All in Low- and Middle-Income Countries
Disability is a leading cause of marginalization in education, with enrollment, primary school completion and literacy rates consistently falling below those of non-disabled children (Groce and Bakhshi, 2011; UNESCO, 2010). Assessing education systems in low and middle income countries (LMICs) for quality education for children with disabilities is a complex research issue and one for which there is still relatively little in the way of formal research. Whilst the evidence base is expanding, much of it still focuses on access and attendance, with less attention paid to what happens within classrooms, or to what type of education systems produce the most effective outcomes for children with disabilities (Bakhshi et al., 2013).
Emerging data however suggests that children with disabilities are less likely to attend or remain in school, have lower transition and completion rates and do not achieve the levels of results of their peers (WHO, 2011). Many factors compound to make the situation difficult for children with disabilities to succeed in formal education. Being a girl, having a particular impairment or condition, or coming from an ultra-poor household are all additional risk factors for poor educational attainment (Le Fanu, 2014).
The aim of this study was to bring together the most current research available on strategies for educational effectiveness for children with disabilities to produce a synthesis of the most effective approaches for quality outcomes. This multifaceted area of investigation involved drawing on elements from policy analysis (including the influence of the international development sector), teacher education, classroom practices and pedagogy, attitudes and cultural expectations, impairment identification and assessment and infrastructure.
In total, 131 articles were analysed but surprisingly only one presented evidence in terms of academic performance. That created a significant limitation in terms of putting forward learning and recommendations in regard to effective approaches. There were also very few articles that covered the important issues of early childhood education for children with disabilities and the impact of community based rehabilitation programmes on school inclusion. Of particular concern was the fact that gender was not analysed as a factor in education for children with disabilities to any great extent.