Education of Children with Disabilities: Voices from Around the World combines research on children with disabilities and women/girls with disabilities. These projects provided opportunities to interview disability professionals, policy-makers and persons with disabilities from around the world with the purpose of learning about needs, issues and services, in diverse countries. A unique international analysis, this research compares various cultural responses on the education of children with disabilities emphasizing the girl child. Discussion includes findings based on 177 interviews of disability professionals from over 57 countries including the stated reasons and consequences of lost educational opportunities. Techniques locating participants included internet searches, literature reviews, and personal referrals. Interviewees were selected based on their experiences with childhood disabilities and/or women and girls with disabilities. Many interviewees were persons with disabilities who shared their personal experiences.

Through a qualitative analysis of the interviews some of the most prevalent themes that emerged were the importance of education and the disproportionate negative effect of disability on females. To measure the strength of these themes, an electronic survey was created using a Likert scale to measure the strength of agreement of each participant with the issues identified. Survey ratings added quantitative confirmation to the rich qualitative interviews. The education themes identified include school exclusion and barriers to education with a particular focus on the girl child, education quality and inclusive education.

Key Take Away Points

  • Disability experts from countries around the world agree that while there are still significant barriers to education for children with disabilities, the realization of the necessity of education for all children is increasing.
  • While disability experts generally agree that inclusive education should be the standard, several point out that reluctance often comes from parents of both children with disabilities and parents of typically developing children.
  • While cultural views of disability shape the educational system for children with disabilities; as more children with disabilities are educated, cultural views are becoming more accepting of disability as a natural part of life.

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