Disability-Inclusive Education and Employment: Understanding the Experiences of Young Men and Women with Disabilities – GHANA
- This research explored the lived experiences of young men and women with disabilities in Ghana through in-depth interviews with 30 young persons with disabilities. The research was guided by a youth advisory committee of another eight Ghanaian youth with disabilities. The participants included a mix of individuals with various disabilities (including physical, visual, hearing, psychosocial, and intellectual impairments, as well as albinism), aged 15-35 years, based in urban and rural parts of Ghana. Participants were purposively selected to reflect varied access to education and vocational training, and employment in the agricultural and the digital sectors.
- Participants reported navigating numerous barriers in their attempts to access education, including difficulties identifying appropriate schools, and managing the costs of education. The Disability Common Fund was found to be a source of support, though financial barriers to education remained for youth with some types of impairments.
- Young people’s experiences in education were mainly shaped by the inaccessibility of school infrastructure, few accommodations in schools, and a general lack of inclusive teaching practices. Although these provisions are the responsibility of education providers, in their absence, peers were identified as a source of informal support.
- Most young people with disabilities faced challenges securing employment due to limited opportunities and skills, and discriminatory attitudes from employers. Many undertook vocational training, but the options available to them varied by type and severity of impairment, with people with severe intellectual or communication impairments being less likely to be accepted by vocational training centres.
- Youth with disabilities engaged in work in the agriculture sector faced challenges including those related to type of impairment (such as youth with physical impairments relying on hired labourers for strenuous tasks) and reported needing financial support to realise their ambitions of increased participation in agriculture.
- Youth with disabilities showed great interest in the digital sector. Those engaged in the field reported needing wider access to training, digital equipment and tools, and financial support.
- Access to assistive products and to digital skills training were noted as facilitating factors in education and employment. Support from family members, friends, and peers were also strong enablers of participation.
- Many youth participants had experienced stigma including negative attitudes and stereotypes, bullying, and discrimination, as well as exclusion in education and employment settings. Drivers of stigma included a lack of awareness of the capabilities of youth with disabilities among individuals without disabilities.
- This study also explored the intersectionality of other factors in shaping youth experiences of education and employment. The visibility of a person’s impairment influenced how they were perceived and treated by the community. Additionally, women with disabilities experienced compounded discrimination as both disability and gender carry forms of marginalisation and stigma.
- The extent of voice and agency among the young people with disabilities varied with the type of their impairment (such as family members not knowing sign language), family dynamics (such as being an older sibling), and ability to contribute to household finances.
- The evidence indicates a gap between young people’s aspirations and the opportunities available to them. This gap was mostly attributable to financial barriers to participation.
- Recommendations arising from this research include the need to strengthen educational institutions and support teachers to better deliver inclusive education; improve policy implementation to increase inclusion of persons with disabilities in education and employment; improve opportunities for young people with disabilities to access assistive products and digital skills; increase efforts to create awareness and sensitise communities to address drivers of stigma; and deliver a wider range of interventions and financial support options which match the aspirations of young people with disabilities with opportunities.
About the Series:
“Disability-Inclusive Education and Employment”
Recognizing that meaningful inclusion for young people with disabilities starts with listening and learning, the Mastercard Foundation developed a research program to map the policy landscape and to hear directly from young people with disabilities.
This research was carried out in partnership with the International Centre for Evidence in Disability at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the University of Abuja, the University of Ghana, Lifetime Consulting Ltd, Addis Ababa University, University of Nairobi, Global Advocacy and Research Group and MRC/UVRI & LSHTM Uganda Research Group.
Two report series have been developed, covering the Mastercard Foundation’s seven countries of focus – the first on the context, the second elevating youth voices.
Briefs summarizing the key findings of each report have been prepared by Dr. Xanthe Hunt in collaboration with LSHTM and the Mastercard Foundation’s research team.