Pauline Rose on disability and education

In this short interview Pauline Rose, Professor of International Education, University of Cambridge, talks about the rights of children with disabilities to an education. As an education and development expert, Pauline discusses how disability is a key issue in education, with many children with disabilities being excluded from school. There is a paucity of evidence on how disability impacts on education. The current lack of data on this topic has limited the understanding of the problem. There are a range of disabilities and impairments of varying severity. Children living in different parts of the world have different experiences of disability and education. More research is needed to understand how different types of disability impact on education, what impact the severity of the impairment has, and how different geographic settings influences experiences.

To develop a greater understanding of some of these issues, in September 2014, HEART launched an Inclusive Learning Topic Guide. Inclusive learning is the result of effective teaching practice, an adapted learning environment and teaching approaches which ensure that all children are included, engaged and supported. The Guide brings together evidence on what works in inclusive learning for children aged 3 to 12 years with disabilities and/or difficulties in learning in low and middle income countries, and explores the role of inclusive approaches in contributing to inclusive societies and ultimately inclusive growth. The Topic Guide addresses some of the contested and debated issues around terminology, labelling, and segregated, integrated and inclusive schooling; reviews the limited evidence that exists from low and middle income countries around the outcomes of inclusive learning; and identifies future research directions.

The evidence underpinning inclusive learning in low and middle income countries is weak and fragmented. In the absence of systematic reviews of high quality, the body of evidence cited here includes empirical studies and conceptual research considered to be of good quality. The evidence is summarised for each section, and includes a range of sources from UN agencies, international non-governmental organisations and academic studies.

Although the primary focus of the Topic Guide is on inclusive learning for children who are at risk of failure and educational exclusion due to their disability or their difficulties in learning, the approaches and evidence discussed have the potential to benefit the learning of children from all disadvantaged or marginalised areas or groups, such as children from remote or nomadic populations, children living in conflict-affected states, malnourished children, and children from linguistic, ethnic or cultural minorities. It has often been said that by meeting the needs of children with disabilities, the needs of all children will be met.

About the speaker

Pauline Rose joined Cambridge University in February 2014 as Professor of International Education. Prior to this position, she was Director of the EFA Global Monitoring Report (from August 2011) during which time she directed two reports on youth, skills and work, and on teaching and learning. Before becoming Director, she worked as Senior Policy Analyst with the team for three years, leading the research for three reports on the themes of governance, marginalization and conflict. Before joining the EFA Global Monitoring Report, Pauline was Reader in international education and development at the University of Sussex.

Pauline is author of numerous publications on issues that examine educational policy and practice, including in relation to inequality, financing and governance, democratization, and the role of international aid. She has worked on large collaborative research programmes with teams in sub‐Saharan Africa and South Asia examining these issues. Throughout her career, she has worked closely with international aid donors and non-governmental organisations, providing evidence-based policy advice on a wide range of issues aimed at fulfilling commitments to education for all. She is also experienced in communicating research to broadcast and print media.


The hashtag #IncEd4dev can be used to join in the conversation with others who have accessed the guide. Relevant twitter accounts include:

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