The project develops knowledge for more equitable education for children with disabilities in primary schools in Ghana and Niger. It has four integrated components: one empirical/theory generative, one methodological, one assessing current tools for disability assessment and one on policy.
The main activity is a 2-year study of 800 primary school children, 400 in each country, half with a disability and the others age-, gender- and class-matched peers. We look for positive(/negative) deviance in children's trajectories related to success(/failure), assuming such lessons are relevant to sustainable education designs.
We start with theory-derived assumptions on how factors related to beliefs, desires, and opportunities, embedded in an institutional and structural context, affect children with disabilities. During data collection, this set of theoretical assumptions will be enriched as the children's context is dissected. Model entities and activities will be brought to the forefront/abstracted following data gathering.
The project also aims to assess how close monitoring and follow-up of children in this type of research project affect trajectories, as it involves a control group of children in non-monitored schools. This aspect has relevance beyond the project: Even sophisticated formative-dialogue research and evaluations rarely have a comparison group to address dissonance resulting from their own presence. Because research and monitoring affect project results positively (encouragement by attention) or negatively (researcher design requirements restrict flexibility), this impacts scalability. Further, the project critically reviews the tools applied by collecting feedback from disability organizations, teachers, students, and caregivers.
Finally, the project derives socially acceptable and cost-effective – and thus, sustainable - advice on policy and program design to support the education of children with disabilities in constrained economies.