“With education you can do anything: without education there’s nothing you can do”: outcomes of schooling for young people with disabilities

“With education you can do anything: without education there’s nothing you can do”: outcomes of schooling for young people with disabilities

Disabled young people's perceptions of the role played by education in their lives, India

This paper analyses data on how disabled young people in urban and rural India understand the role played by education in their lives. The research aimed to gain access to the voices, views, feelings and experiences of the young people. It contrasts the poor outcomes for young people’s employment with their own sense of the value of schooling in enhancing their social skills and opportunities. The following are the major findings:

  • few young people had secured employment despite the jobs reserved for people with disabilities. Their perception was that the government has not been serious in implementing this fully
  • their perceptions of the economic benefits of schooling were more in terms of potential than actual achievements
  • for the significant others of the young people, they were more interested in education leading to employment and expressed frustration if the youth failed to get employment after school. The youth on the other hand the other non-economic benefits of schooling as of equal or even greater in significance
  • the perception that education provides many benefits over and above those related to employment was widely shared by all the schooled and non-schooled
  • the young people were positive about schooling’s actual and potential contribution to their personal development and to the contribution it can make to how they carry themselves in public and deal with the outside world
  • the most positive outcomes of schooling is the boost to young people’s social capital – the countering of stigmatisation enabling them to hold their heads up with more self-confidence than would otherwise be the case.
The paper presents the following policy implications:
  • a focus on schooling needs to move beyond entry towards greater engagement and empowerment of young people with disabilities
  • additionally, there is a need to focus on enhancing the relevance of the curriculum delivered in schools
  • greater provisions are needed for young people with disabilities to be given opportunities to make transitions into work places
  • there is a need to develop a much greater awareness of the rights and entitlements for people with disabilities. Collaboration between the state and the NGO sector would help achieve better results. Another useful link could be a better dissemination of this information to different stakeholders in the school.