Challenges of inclusion: a qualitative study exploring barriers and pathways to inclusion of persons with mental disabilities in technical and vocational education and training programmes in East Africa

Ikenna D. Ebuenyi*, Esther S. Rottenburg, Joske F.G. Bunders-Aelen, Barbara J. Regeer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To explore barriers and pathways to the inclusion of persons with mental and intellectual disabilities in technical and vocational education and training programmes in four East African countries, in order to pave the way to greater inclusion. Materials and methods: An explorative, qualitative study including 10 in-depth interviews and a group discussion was conducted with coordinators of different programmes in four East African countries. Two independent researchers coded the interviews inductively using Atlas.ti. The underlying framework used is the culture, structure, and practice model. Results: Barriers and pathways to inclusion were found in the three interrelated components of the model. They are mutually reinforcing and are thus not independent of one another. Barriers regarding culture include negative attitudes towards persons with mental illnesses, structural barriers relate to exclusion from primary school, rigid curricula and untrained teachers and unclear policies. Culture and structure hence severely hinder a practice of including persons with mental disabilities in technical and vocational education and training programmes. Pathways suggested are aiming for a clearer policy, more flexible curricula, improved teacher training and more inclusive attitudes. Conclusions: In order to overcome the identified complex barriers, systemic changes are necessary. Suggested pathways for programme coordinators serve as a starting point.Implications for rehabilitation Clear and up-to-date information on mental disability is required to engender societal participation; especially that of stakeholders in technical and vocational education and training programmes. Affirmative action and policy implementations of national and international human rights legislations are required to address the challenges of enrolment in technical and vocational education and training programmes. Disability organisations and government should adopt a more open and strengths-based attitude, tailor-made curricula, specific teacher training as well as clearer policies to ensure better inclusion of persons with mental disabilities in technical and vocational education and training programmes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)536-544
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume42
Issue number4
Early online date6 Nov 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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Keywords

  • disability
  • East Africa
  • employability
  • labour market inclusion
  • Mental illness
  • vocational training

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