Inclusive Education Policy and Its Influence on Academic Participation of Students with Disabilities in Selected Public Universities in Kenya

David Njuguna Karanja, Isabella Musyoka-Kamere, Violet Wawire


Although tangible evidence is indicative that most institutions of higher learning endorse the concept of inclusive education, as is demonstrated by the existence of inclusive education policies formulated at the institutional level, there is need to ensure that the policies are indeed effective and fully implemented in order to realize the goal of academic participation for all. Informed by low admission rates of students with disabilities in public universities in Kenya, a study was initiated to examine the effectiveness of existing inclusive education policies in higher learning institutions as relates to admission and academic participation of students with disabilities. The study was guided by the Social Model of Disability theory and advanced a descriptive research design to collect in-depth information on the substance and implementation of inclusive education policies in two public universities in Kenya.  Kenyatta University (KU) and Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) were purposively selected for this study owing to their longer establishment as institutions of higher learning in Kenya. The study identified lecturers, students with disabilities and administrators involved with student admission and disability coordination as the respondents. The sample size in the respective universities was constituted as follows: 30% of the lectures teaching in programmes with registered students with disabilities; 30% of the enrolled population of students with disabilities; Registrar academics, in charge of student admission; and the Coordinator of the disability. Data collection instruments used included interviews, questionnaires, observation, focus group discussions and document analysis. The data collected was analyzed thematically, guided by the objectives of the study, using different inferential and descriptive statistics at different stages of analysis. Narratives and verbatim prose were used in presenting part of the qualitative data. The study found that both KU and JKUAT have comprehensive disability policy documents, aligned to the concept of inclusive education.  KU has made commendable strides in implementing its policy, though not fully achieved. However, JKUAT policy remains largely nonoperational.  Based on the findings, it is recommended that more support is needed to facilitate and strengthen the capacity of higher learning institutions to fully operationalize their inclusive education policies, and thereby promote learning and academic participation of students with disabilities.


Inclusive Education Policy; Public Universities; Academic Participation; Students with Disabilities

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