Disability-Inclusive Education and Employment: Understanding the Experiences of Young Men and Women with Disabilities – SENEGAL
- This research explored the lived experiences of young men and women with disabilities in Senegal through in-depth interviews with 30 young persons with disabilities. The study included a mix of participants with various disabilities (including physical, visual, hearing, psychosocial, and intellectual impairments, as well as albinism), aged between 15-35 years, based in urban and rural parts of Senegal. 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 to accessing appropriate, inclusive schools including distance, accessible transportation, negative attitudes from family members, and difficulties meeting the costs of education. These costs included school fees, books, uniforms, assistive devices, inclusive learning materials and support, as well as the opportunity costs associated with family members accompanying the students to school.
- Experiences of youth with disabilities during education were shaped by inaccessibility, lack of accommodations, and exclusionary teaching practices. Several youth also reported the benefits of inclusive and enabling environments created by supportive teachers, staff, and peers.
- Most young persons with disabilities faced challenges securing employment, including due to discriminatory hiring practices. Those in employment struggled with inaccessible workplaces and a lack of accommodations. Many young people needed support to develop their capacity, employability, and skills to improve their chances at successfully transitioning into employment.
- Youth with disabilities in the agricultural sector faced barriers related to their impairment, a lack of support for particular tasks, and financial challenges.
- Youth engaged in the digital sector reported limited training opportunities that were accessible, affordable, and appropriate for people with diverse support needs.
- Access to assistive products and to digital skills training were noted as facilitating factors in the context of both education and employment. Support from family members, friends, peers, and community members were also strong enablers of participation and achievement.
- Many youth participants had experienced stigma including negative attitudes and stereotypes, bullying, violence and abuse, and discrimination and exclusion in education and employment settings. Drivers of stigma included a lack of awareness of the capabilities of youth with disabilities, and misconceptions about disability.
- This study also explored the intersectionality of other factors with disability in shaping youth experiences of education and employment. Young women with disabilities experienced compounded discrimination as both disability and gender carry unique forms of marginalisation and stigma.
- The extent of voice and agency among the young people varied with the type and severity of their impairment, household factors, and family dynamics. Participants expressed a desire for increased representation and freedom to make independent choices related to their education and career path.
- There was a discrepancy between what youth with disabilities aspired to do, are confident doing, and the opportunities available to them.
- Recommendations arising from this work include strengthening educational institutions and teaching practices to better deliver inclusive education; improving policy implementation to increase the inclusion of persons with disabilities in education and employment; improving opportunities for young persons with disabilities to access financial support for skills trainings, the job seeking process, and start-up capital for small businesses; more efforts to create awareness and sensitise employers and 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 persons 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.