Disability & Education: Research, Policy & Practice in Pakistan

Project Duration: 2022 to 2025

In Pakistan, the existing research on disability issues is largely limited to the issue of prevalence, often gathered through the census and official government reports. The need to develop a deeper understanding based on qualitative research has been noted by many scholars on disability, especially in the educational context. We have to understand the challenges children with disabilities face. For this, it is crucial to understand who these children are, but beyond that, the specific challenges they face in attending school and participating in society in general. With hardly any systematic work on the lived realities of children with disabilities, this qualitative research study focusing on five disabilities: Deaf, Blind, Cognitive, Physical, and Learning, aims to understand and highlight the educational experiences of students and persons with disability in Pakistan.

 Through structured and semi-structured interviews, ethnographic observations, and reflections, this study wants to construct a deeper understanding, and uncover themes that surround the challenges they face, providing contextual and local nuances and insights. This study will conduct narrative research to collect stories and narratives that are aimed to move away from homogenous representations of what disability issues entail and highlight the complex challenges that children with disabilities face with regards to factors such as class, gender, location, and access to services.

Broadly, this research aims at exploring the following questions:

  • What is the current educational experience of students with disability in public, private, and non-governmental K-12 and higher educational institutions in Pakistan?
  • What societal, social, and economic barriers do children with disabilities and their families face in accessing quality education for children?
  • What is the resource and research gap that inhibits children with disabilities from learning at their grade level?
  • What challenges do special education administrators face in running special education schools?
  • What education policy reforms are required to improve accessibility, shape resourcing decisions, and monitor progress toward inclusive education?

With the glaring gap of knowledge and research existing in the context of Pakistan, this research, by interviewing children with disabilities and their families, hopes to produce a rich collection of narratives, themes, and analyses in the form of op-eds, articles in academic journals, chapters and ultimately a book. These deliverables will inform the sensibilities of policy-makers and on-ground stakeholders in the field of disability and education to identify the needs and challenges of children with disabilities and make informed and effective policies.

Planned outputs include a forthcoming working paper series, opinion pieces in print media, video podcasts with practitioners and researchers in the field and thematic blogs.

This Project is supported by the following grant funding:

  • School of Education Deans Fund, LUMS
  •  Faculty Initiative Fund (FIF), LUMS