Inclusive and Special Education Approaches in Developing Countries

Helpdesk Query:

What is the global evidence on the effectiveness of inclusive versus special education approaches in improving learning and behavioural outcomes?


The aim of this review was to present the recent evidence on the effectiveness of inclusive and special education approaches in improving learning and behavioural outcomes, with a focus on developing countries, particularly Ethiopia. One of the key difficulties surrounding inclusive education in developing countries is the lack of research about education in these countries. Although there has been an increase of research in the last 5 years, robust, empirical evidence for low- and middle-income countries is still lacking, and difficulties around clear definitions of inclusive education and comparability of data on education of children with disabilities, makes it difficult to assess to what extent they are being left behind.

In particular, there is limited long-term data and evidence around learning achievements and outcomes for learners with disabilities, making it difficult to enact systemic changes to the education system that would improve learning achievements for children with disabilities (Schuelka, 2013). For most studies reviewed, data were lacking on whether outcomes differed according to gender, or whether interventions were cost-effective. The lack of data comparing different approaches that try to improve educational inclusion and outcomes for children with disabilities makes it difficult to judge what approach is most effective (Kuper et al, 2018).

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