King's College London

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Exploring context for implementation of inclusive education for children with developmental disabilities in mainstream primary schools in Ethiopia

posted on 2024-03-26, 19:27 authored by Elisa GenovesiElisa Genovesi, Ikram Ahmed, Moges Ayele, Winini Belay, Olivia Burningham, Amanda Chen, Fikirte Girma, Liya Tesfaye Lakew, Charlotte Hanlon, Rosa Hoekstra

A large gap in provision of services for children with developmental disabilities has been identified in Ethiopia, especially in the education system. Including children with disabilities in mainstream schools is encouraged by policies, but progress in this direction has been limited. This study aimed to explore stakeholders’ perspectives on contextual factors relevant for inclusive education for children with developmental disabilities in mainstream schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 39 local stakeholders, comprising caregivers of children with developmental disabilities, school teachers and principals/managers, non-governmental organisation representatives, government officials, clinicians and academics/consultants. We used template analysis to code the data and map them onto domains of the Context and Setting dimensions of the Context and Implementation of Complex Interventions framework (Pfadenhauer et al., 2017). Stakeholders discussed frameworks in the Legal and Ethical context endorsing the right of all children to education. However, they reported multiple reasons why children with developmental disabilities in Addis Ababa have limited access to education, either in special or mainstream schools. First, individual features, such as gender and support needs, discussed in the Epidemiological context, may affect the likelihood of a child with developmental disabilities to be accepted in school. Transportation challenges are a key barrier in the Geographical context. Socio-economic and Socio-cultural contexts present barriers at the levels of the nation, school and family, mostly related to limited services and material and financial resources and limited awareness of developmental disabilities. Stakeholders believe the currently limited but growing commitment in the Political context can support progress towards the removal of these barriers. Our findings can form the basis for development of an implementation plan that addresses such barriers and capitalises on existing facilitators.


The project has been funded by the UKRI Economic and Social Research Council through a London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership (LISS DTP) studentship (ES/P000703/1), by the British Institute for Eastern Africa through a Thematic Grant and by undergraduate research project funding from King’s College London. CH receives support from the Wellcome Trust through grants 222154/Z20/Z and 223615/Z/21/Z. RAH, CH, FG and WB receive support from the National Institute for Health and care Research (NIHR200842) using UK aid from the UK Government and CH through the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Homelessness and Mental Health in Africa (NIHR134325) using UK aid from the UK Government. The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care or other funders. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

The London Interdisciplinary Social Science DTP

Economic and Social Research Council

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Wellcome Trust

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NIHR Global Health Research Group on homelessness and severe mental illness in Africa (HOPE)

National Institute for Health Research

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Data collection to date


Collection method

Qualitative interviews


English and Amharic (transcripts have been translated in English)

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