Disabled education? : a study concerning young adults with physical disabilities and their experiences with school in Livingstone, Zambia


Publication date



Høgskolen i Oslo og Akershus. Fakultet for samfunnsfag

Document type


Master in International Social Welfare and Health Policy


There are about one billion people living with a disability in the world today. In Zambia, this number might be closer to two million. People with disabilities in the global South are almost always less likely to be in school, less likely to be employed, and more likely to be subject to economic hardship. The standing national education policy has failed in its aim to secure education for all, especially for children and youths with disabilities. Disability scholars have argued for a more comprehensive inclusion of grassroots perspectives on disability issues, as there is limited research on people’s lived experiences, and the voices of disabled people are not being included in policies and planning. Therefore, this study aims to identify how people with disabilities experience schooling, how they have been included, and how they experience and explain the apparent lack of schooling. To this end, I pose the following research question: “What barriers do young adults with physical disabilities experience in relation to education?” This study investigates these barriers through the framework of critical disability theory, sensitized to the context of Livingstone. This qualitative study relies on interviews with 17 young adults with physical disabilities from Livingstone. Purposive sampling was used to invite informants to participate. Their perspectives on education were examined to determine the barriers to education that they have confronted. Content analysis was chosen for systematically analyzing and making inferences from the transcribed interview material. The main findings indicate that the barriers to education for young adults with physical disabilities in Livingstone are related to inadequate infrastructure, long distances to school, mobility to reach school, inaccessible school buildings, inadequate learning materials, and limited adaptations for them. Further, these barriers are related to negative attitudes or stigmatization from people in the community, school, or family, and instances of violence or abuse. These findings are presented in a table, and interrelated concerns between physical and socio-cultural barriers are addressed. Such interrelations are mainly represented by powerlessness and poverty.


Permanent URL (for citation purposes)

  • http://hdl.handle.net/10642/1727