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Status of Inclusive Education (IE) in Low-Income Countries

Akhil Vijayan, 13, with hearing impairment, studying at his desk in his home beside a window.
© CBM
Akhil Vijayan, 13, with hearing impairment, wants to become an electrical engineer

Though there has been an increase in awareness of the right to education for children with disabilities, there are several gaps in the training of teachers, flexibility in curriculum, donor attention to funding and definitions of inclusive education.

These are some of the key findings of a new report by CBM titled, ‘Inclusive Education and Children with Disabilities: Quality Education for All in Low and Middle-Income Countries’.  

Children with disabilities are not receiving their entitlements through ‘Education for All’ or ‘Inclusive Education’, concludes the study based on an analysis of 131 articles on inclusive education and low-income group countries, including India.

Teachers are more open to including children with disabilities in their classrooms and when supported they can come up with innovative ways to manage and address their needs, the secondary study adds.
Disability is a leading cause for exclusion in education with enrollment, completion of primary school and literacy rates of children with disability falling below those of non-disabled. The number of children with disabilities between the ages of 5 – 10 in India is estimated to be 2.36 million, but only 1.72 million are enrolled in elementary school.  The District Information on School Education (DISE) reports that the proportion of enrolment of children with disabilities at the primary level to total enrolment was 1.18% and dropped to 0.90% for the upper primary level in 2012-13. 

Need to go beyond enrolment

Focus on universal primary education has been successful in increasing enrolment rates. This reflects in more children with disabilities entering mainstream schools. 

But the study highlights that the teachers are repeatedly raising concerns over the practical challenges of including children with disabilities in their classrooms.   

“On the whole, they do not feel prepared to be able to effectively teach children with disabilities,” the study adds.

These responses from the teaching community further highlight the often-repeated call for the training methodologies to adopt ‘inclusive classroom practices’. Pre-service training benefits from the inclusion of practical components that expose teachers to real life scenarios on inclusion and make them feel more prepared.

The study also finds that the special education sector is poorly equipped to support disability inclusive education and in many situations needs to be significantly improved before it can support mainstream to be effectively inclusive.

Policy and funding

Most of the articles reviewed for the study mention that governments are creating policies to promote education for children with disabilities – whether it is inclusive education or some form of inclusion/special needs/ special education policy. But when it comes to implementation, it found that there is a mismatch between seemingly comprehensive policies and the lack of implementation.  

The study also makes a significant point about evaluating the true cost of inclusive education by measuring the long-term improvements in the educational experiences of children with disabilities through specialist staff, assistive technology, and adaptive environment within the mainstream education system. 

In terms of funding, the study observes that donors have a greater role to play in strengthening national plans towards the implementation of inclusive education.

Click here to read the full report
Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion" Thumbnail for video "Winning combination of cricket and inclusion"

Winning combination of cricket and inclusion

Message by India’s T20 Blind Cricket Team on celebrating CBM India’s winning combination of cricket and inclusion.

Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school" Thumbnail for video "Why Vidya must go to school"

Why Vidya must go to school

We all feel very strongly about the need of education for enabling children to find opportunities and addressing development challenges of the country


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