Disability-Inclusive Education and Employment: Understanding the Experiences of Young Men and Women with Disabilities – KENYA
- This research explored the lived experiences of young men and women with disabilities in Kenya through in-depth interviews with 32 young persons with disabilities. The study included a mix of participants with various disabilities (including physical, visual, hearing, psychosocial, and intellectual impairments), aged between 15-35 years, based in urban and rural parts of Kenya. Participants were purposively selected to reflect varied access to education and vocational training, employment in the agricultural and the digital sector.
- The findings highlight that although the right to education and employment is provided for in the Kenya constitution, many youths with disabilities continue to experience exclusion.
- Families of children with disabilities often face challenges identifying and enrolling their children in appropriate schools. Their decisions are influenced by several multifaceted factors that include the type and severity of impairment, household socioeconomic factors, type and proximity of learning institutions.
- Financial barriers were widely reported as limiting access to education, including higher education. While education support such as bursaries are available, they only cover tuition fees and the family is left to manage the remaining costs.
- Young people’s experiences in education were mainly shaped by inaccessibility of school infrastructure and lack of accommodations in teaching practices. Although these are the responsibility of the education provider, these barriers are sometimes overcome with support from peers.
- Despite the constitutional provision on employment for persons with disabilities, they remain excluded in gainful employment. Transitioning from education to employment was difficult for many young people with disabilities. Despite being skilled, they faced challenges related to inaccessibility of information about job opportunities, and discriminatory practices in hiring and providing accommodations. As a result, youth often took part in vocational training, internships, or re-trained as teachers.
- Although agriculture is a potential employment avenue for youth with disabilities, they faced several challenges. These include attitudinal challenges where youth with certain types of impairments were misperceived as unsuited for farm-based work. Inaccessibility and unavailability of training, lack of resources such as land and capital, and low availability of information about the range of opportunities in the agriculture sector were other key barriers.
- Young people interested in the digital sector experienced significant challenges translating their skills and technical expertise into employment in the sector. They reported knowing of limited job opportunities which were difficult to secure or retain due to reasons including discriminatory practices and inability to access adequate assistive products. Financial costs associated with appropriate assistive technology was another challenge for youth aspiring to work in the digital sector.
- Digital skills are an enabler to education and employment opportunities. However, it remains inaccessible to many youths with disabilities. Access was influenced by type and severity of impairment as well socioeconomic factors because assistive digital technology was costly, and skills training was limited in availability.
- Access to assistive products and to digital skills training were noted as facilitating factors in education and employment. Support from family members, friends, peers, and community members were also strong enablers of participation and attainment.
- Many youth participants had experienced stigma including negative attitudes and stereotyping, bullying, violence and abuse, and discrimination and exclusion in education and employment settings. Drivers of stigma included lack of awareness of the capabilities of youth with disabilities, and misconceptions around disability.
- This study also explored the intersectionality of youth experiences. The visibility of a person’s impairment can influence how they are perceived and treated by the community. Women with disabilities experience compounded discrimination as both disability and gender carry forms of marginalisation and stigma.
- The evidence indicates a gap between young people’s aspirations and opportunities available to them. These were most influenced by discriminatory attitudes and practices.
- Recommendations included stronger policy implementation and enactment of laws to increase inclusiveness of persons with disabilities; improved monitoring of provisions and policies to facilitate reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities; more efforts to create awareness and sensitise communities to address drivers of stigma; wider availability of assistive products and digital skills; and wider range of interventions and financial support options to better 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.