Implementing inclusive education for persons with disabilities in Lusaka, Zambia. A symbolic interactionist perspective


Publication date



Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

Document type


Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy


Inclusion of students with disability in their local schools has been promoted since 1996 in Zambia. However, the experiences of students with disabilities has been mixed. The study has examined conditions under which inclusive education is most likely to be achieved in Zambia. To answer the question, the thesis has identified processes that may hamper or promote inclusive education at the local level. Particular attention is given to how teachers and students with disabilities account for the social processes, meanings and social relationships in the provision of education at a local school in Lusaka, Zambia. The study also has explored coping strategies developed by students with disabilities in their pursuit of their educational goals. The study has utilized a symbolic interactionist perspective. Participants included seven (7) students with disabilities, one (1) deputy head teacher, and one (1) class teacher. Participants were recruited using purposive sampling technique. The data collection methods used were semi-structured interviews, direct observation and document analysis. The data demonstrate that the social relationships between students with and without disabilities was hampered by physical separation of the two groups through separate residences, inaccessible buildings, non-participation in extra-curricular activities (school trips and sports) and denied use of information and communication technologies. The social relationships between teachers and students with disabilities were affected by negative attitudes of teachers towards students with disabilities, inappropriate methods of teaching and teacher education. The relationships between parents/caregivers and students with disabilities were affected by parents’ expectations of reciprocity or returns if they invested in children’s education. Students adopted coping strategies identified as avoidance, rebellion, reconciliation and determination. In many cases, such coping strategies helped to compensate for or reduce the consequences of the barriers they experienced in their education.




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