News and opinion

Jacqui Mattingly

Seeing our research in action

22 October 2017

Jacqui Mattingly is one of Education Development Trust’s expert Principal Advisers and author of a trilogy of research reports looking at the right to education for children with disabilities in Rwanda, Madagascar and Comoros in support of an overall study of the situation across the region.

It was a real honour to be invited to present the findings of the research I co-authored at Unicef Eastern and Southern Africa Region's first conference on inclusive education in Johannesburg – but even more of a personal and professional highlight was hearing the impact our research is having on the ground.

The invitation was for me to present the findings of the research into the right to education for children with disabilities in Eastern and Southern Africa that Education Development Trust and Unicef jointly conducted in 2015. In addition to speakers from the region, speakers also attended from Unicef headquarters and UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning. Our audience was made up of Unicef regional representatives as well as their government and non-government counterparts. The conference was especially notable for the high level of interest and engagement in inclusive education and a great opportunity for countries to share experience and discuss their plans for the future.

Following my presentation on the overall regional study, representatives from Madagascar, The Union of the Comoros and Rwanda, the three countries where I had conducted in-depth studies presented on developments in their countries since the studies had taken place – and this was my personal highlight: all three countries are using the findings and recommendations to effect positive change.

Madagascar has developed a strategic framework for inclusive education, with their new education sector plan 2018-2022 setting a vision for inclusion and provision for children with disabilities for the first time. They also now have a ministerial circular defining arrangements to allow children with disabilities to sit national examinations as well as harmonised modules for teacher training to ensure quality. 

In The Union of the Comoros, an awareness campaign has led to increased parental acceptance and community drive for all children to attend school; a policy has been developed together with an action plan for its implementation. A guide for parents of pre-school children has been developed which includes the right to education for children with disabilities.

In Rwanda, the inclusive and special needs policy has been revised and is reflected in the up-coming sector plan. A guide to inclusive education has been developed and a teacher in every school has been trained to use it. Inclusive education has been incorporated into pre-service teacher training as mandatory. 

It was a thought-provoking, inspiring and positive event – made all the more memorable by seeing the impact our work is having on some of the most vulnerable children on the planet.