Purpose: Inclusive education and post-school life are crossover issues that cut across societal lines and therefore need a multisectoral approach. This study examines the educational opportunities of children with disability and their post-school life in rural Sri Lanka.
Methods: The research was implemented with multiple sectors in a rural area of the North Central Province, from January - November 2014. Mixed methods were applied as follows: surveys with children with disability aged 2 to 18 years (n=103); case studies of children with disability who dropped out of or did not attend school (n=3); semi-structured interviews with ex-students with disability who had attended special needs classes (n=13); and, informal interviews with a CBR core group officer. Data was mainly analysed with qualitative procedures.
Results: The study consists of 3 parts. The first part revealed that in terms of the current educational opportunities among children with disability aged 2 to 18 years, approximately 31.1% utilised educational resources whereas 38.8% were at home with no special social activities. The case studies in the second part revealed the reasons for limited educational opportunities in the area and the barriers to educational access, which included family members’ attitudes and socio-economic aspects such as poverty. The third part, consisting of semi-structured interviews with ex-students with disability who received education but did not participate in the CBR activities, revealed 3 types of post-school lifestyle: ‘time mostly spent at home’, ‘household chores’ and ‘temporary agricultural work’. The interviews also indicated other barriers to post-school participation, such as a lack of network and information, negative experiences during the schooling period, and families’ priorities.
Conclusions: Inadequate educational opportunities among children with disability and barriers to post-school social participation in rural Sri Lanka are revealed. This study argues the importance of the multisectoral approach to find unidentified children as well as to conduct comprehensive programmes.