From Rights to Realities: Confronting the Challenge of Educating Persons with Disabilities in Developing Countries

Peer-reviewed article
Global Education Review, 3


Beckman, Paula, Nicole Abera, Thomas Sabella, Kimberly Podzimek, and Lenisa Joseph.


The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) has been the catalyst for countless national policies around the world which focus on increased participation of individuals with disabilities in educational and community settings. Despite these national and international policies, most children with disabilities in developing countries are out-of-school. This manuscript examines local factors which make it difficult to address the needs of individuals with disabilities in developing nations. We begin by describing the link between global poverty and disability and a summary of relevant international agreements. We then describe common barriers to the realization of these agreements that have been reported in a number of studies. In addition to relevant literature on this topic, we highlight examples that have emerged from studies conducted in El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Liberia to illustrate salient issues about the topic. The studies revealed some common barriers to educational access that are consistent with the relatively limited literature conducted in local contexts. Recommendations for addressing these challenges include focusing on public acceptance and awareness, seeking community voice, connection, and support, providing training that is practical, functional, and widely available, investing in systems for transportation, and improving the overall quality of programming.