Obstacles faced by students with disabilities in colleges due to the lack of inclusive educational frameworks in Pakistan

Author: Saira Ayub

Ayub, Saira, 2022 Obstacles faced by students with disabilities in colleges due to the lack of inclusive educational frameworks in Pakistan , Flinders University, College of Education, Psychology and Social Work

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This research explored the obstacles that students with physical disabilities at general colleges in the Punjab province of Pakistan encountered due to a lack of inclusive practices and strategies within the country’s educational sector. Primarily focusing on the social model of disability, this study investigated the structural, attitudinal, educational, and system-wide barriers which limit the independence and learning opportunities of the students with physical disabilities. This research was carried out in the major cities of Punjab, which is the largest province of Pakistan and located in the north western part of the country. A large body of research has demonstrated that only an inclusive education system can achieve the quality learning outcomes for all children, including students with special needs, disabilities or impairments, and gifted students. However, establishing an inclusive learning environment within Pakistan’s public educational system is difficult due to the prevailing institutionalised obstacles, including inadequate accessibility to buildings and facilities, lack of disability awareness amongst faculty, unavailability of assistive devices, and lack of suitable learning materials. The research methodology for this study was a sequential explanatory and mixed-method approach, in which data from quantitative online surveys and qualitative online interviews were gathered via convenience sampling. The interview data were analysed using phenomenologically crafted stories to link the experiences of the participants. In the first phase, data from 80 people were obtained from undergraduate students with physical disabilities, to understand the general obstacles they faced while participating in inclusive education within mainstream colleges. The second phase expanded on the first phase by conducting online interviews with two selected students. The final phase examined information across the data to interpret the comprehensive phenomenon of the study to enhance the accuracy of the research findings. The research revealed that the student participants in the research experienced many barriers relating to inadequacies in infrastructure, mobility, attitudes, and access to public exams. There is limited access to basic amenities in colleges, and students experience difficulties in accessing transport which restricts independence and freedom to travel for learning. The study showed that the fundamental needs of the students have been neglected, primarily due to a lack of awareness about disability issues in the society. Moreover, female students with disability face the effects of multiple discrimination due to the intersection of disability and gender, which results in mobility and health issues causing interruption to their education. Weaknesses in the legal framework, poor monitoring systems, and the disconnect between ministries are significant system-wide obstacles to implementing inclusive policies in Pakistan. Future research should focus on the experiences of students with visual and hearing disabilities and on inclusive education practices in colleges located in small communities and remote areas.

Keywords: Inclusive Education, Student with disabilities, Colleges in Pakistan, Barriers, Multiple discrimination, Disability and gender

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2022
School: College of Education, Psychology and Social Work
Supervisor: Dr Bev Rogers