In and Out of the Mainstream: Disability, Education and Employment in African Contexts

  • Anna Horton
  • Tom Shakespeare


Whether it comes to education or livelihoods, disability is associated with exclusion and disadvantage. As part of a larger study, we were interested in how disabled people negotiated education and employment in trying circumstances in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda. We conducted in-depth interviews with people with physical disabilities in these countries. Our findings demonstrated that the majority of participants from all three countries analysed had moved in, out and between mainstream and disabled people’s organisation (DPO) sectors, in both education and employment. The results were heterogeneous across the three countries, and we found that creative use of local opportunities and challenges was crucial to success.



The study reported on here was conducted as part of the “Bridging the Gap: Evaluating Disability and Development in Four African Countries” research programme, led by Professor Nora Groce at the Leonard Cheshire Disability-Inclusive Research Centre at University College London and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK Department for International Development. The Levers of Success project was devised by TS, who did the initial data collection in each country; thanks to Anthony Mugeere (Uganda), Emily Nyariki (Kenya) and Joseph Simbaya (Zambia) for conducting the balance of the interviews, and to Richard Bwalya (Zambia), Julius Omona (Uganda), Joyce Olenja (Kenya), Andrew State (Uganda), and to local Leonard Cheshire Disability and DPO colleagues for supporting the research. Thanks to Nora Groce, Anthony Mugeere, Joseph Simbaya and Mary Wickenden for help with analysis and to Maria Kett and Ellie Cole for helping make the research programme happen effectively. This chapter was initiated by TS, analysis was led by AH and writing up was done by TS and AH equally. Thanks to Nora Groce and Mary Wickenden for extremely helpful feedback on the drafts and to the editors of this collection for their forbearance and wisdom.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Horton
    • 1
  • Tom Shakespeare
    • 2
  1. 1.McGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Disability ResearchUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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