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BAICE Education of Children with Disabilities in
Southern Countries

BAICE thematic forum
Partnership between University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham
Lead Organiser: Dr. Nidhi Singal, University of Cambridge
Co-organiser: Dr. Paul Lynch, University of Birmingham

Disability is an increasingly vital contemporary issue in international development and particularly so in the area of education. Primarily anchored in a human rights approach and human capital theory, significant efforts have been made to increase the enrolment and participation of children and young people with disabilities in a range of different educational systems. However, over the last few years there has been a growing critique of these approaches, wherein notions of social justice, difference and educational quality have become more nuanced, and have also shaped the nature and quality of educational provision for those with disabilities. All these developments have raised some interesting issues for policy, research and practice.
The series of activities undertaken by the Forum focus on the following issues:

  1. The challenges involved in the interpretation and implementation of global frameworks on disability and education, such as inclusive education, on national policies and local settings.
  2. A critical examination of different models of education being developed in various Southern countries, and lessons for the North.
  3.  The methodological and conceptual challenges present in undertaking research on disability issues in Southern countries.

This Forum brings together researchers (students and others), NGOs and other stakeholders who are based in the UK but working in the Global South to discuss these important issues, and foster mutual learning.

In the first year the forum hosted two seminars a brief description of both the events is given below:

The first seminar (23 November 2012) was held at the University of Birmingham on the topic “Methodological issues in researching disability in the South”. Our speakers were: Professor Colin Robson, Emeritus Professor at University of Huddersfield, Dr Juliet Bedford, Director, Anthrologica and Research Associate, School of Anthropology, University of Oxford, and Professor Alarcos Cieza, University of Southampton. The presentations focused on the use of large scale data sets in disability research, the politics of disability data collection, the role of small scale qualitative studies in influencing policy and the potential of using the revised WHO ICF classification on disability, functioning and health. The seminar was attended by 33 people, who came from various parts of the UK and two from Sweden. The participants had mixed profiles with majority being doctoral students. We were also successful in bringing in people from the NGO sector. The day was organised in a way that allowed for substantial time for discussions and reflections and opportunities for networking.

The second seminar (03 May 2013) was held at the University of Cambridge and was titled, “Ethics and Disability research in Southern contexts: unexplored terrain, unresolved tensions”. Our three speakers for this event were: Professor Nora Groce, University College London, Dr Shaun Grech, Manchester Metropolitan University, Dr Guy Le Fanu, Programme Development Advisor at Sightsavers. Each of the speakers reflected on ethical issues drawing on their own research journeys and provided participants with questions for discussions, which took place in small groups. A total of 38 participants attended this event, and they represented a range of Universities in the UK and three participants came from Sweden and Norway. Even more reassuring was the fact that many of the participants who had attended the first seminar came for this event too. This was particularly useful in developing a sense of belonging and laying the foundations of a possible network in the future.