Education for children with disabilities

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Helpdesk Query:

Provide a rapid literature review of the evidence on what data and evidence exists, to identify, categorise and support children with disabilities to access education and achieve measurable learning outcomes in Tanzania and/or other similar resource-constrained LICs/ contexts. Particular attention should be paid to the debate between mainstream vs specialist education for children with disabilities.

Summary:

This report provides a rapid literature review of the evidence on what data and evidence exists, to identify, categorise and support children with disabilities to access education and achieve measurable learning outcomes in Tanzania and other similar resource-constrained contexts. Literature focused on the debate between mainstream and specialist education for children with disabilities is discussed.

Where possible, the report flags gender dimensions. While the scope of the report did not allow for complex judgements to be made about the quality of the body of evidence, or of the strength of individual pieces of evidence, details were included to enable the reader to undertake such analysis if needed in the future, using the DFID How to Note on Assessing the Strength of Evidence. All the evidence included was in English, no more than 10 years old and from peer reviewed journals. A number of experts in the field were consulted.

The Tanzanian Government is committed to working to identify the needs of each child with disabilities and to create an individualised education plan with appropriate accommodations and adaptations as necessary. This is made clear in Tanzania’s 2002 National Policy on Disability (Aldersey and Turnbull 2011). The policy also advocates for the training of educators and other service providers to be comfortable and competent with the identification of children with disabilities. However, discrepancy remains between rhetoric and reality. Evidence of screenings for particular disabilities have presented some challenges. For example school eye health screening can identify children with un/undercorrected refractive error. However, low prevalence and poor uptake of services offered in response to disability have cast doubt on the usefulness of such screening (Wedner et al 2008). In terms of a theoretical approach, the capability approach, which positions the education of children with disabilities within the social justice debate, was found to be useful in supporting the identification of children with disabilities (Stone-MacDonald 2015).

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