The last few years have seen an increase in the enrolment numbers of children with disabilities into the education system, however there are continuing concerns about the outcomes of these efforts, especially in terms of employment. This paper assembles data from a qualitative enquiry into how young people (aged 15-30) with three impairments (in hearing, seeing and walking) understand the role played by education in their lives. The research, carried out in urban and rural Madhya Pradesh, India, contrasts the poor outcomes for these young people in terms of employment (despite the reservations policy of the state government) with young people's own sense of the value of schooling in enhancing their social skills and opportunities, and their cultural capital, particularly in terms of how they are able to confront stigmatizing attitudes. Whereas the 'significant others' (parents and elder siblings) see schooling as a failure if it does not lead to jobs, these young people with disabilities themselves focus on education's enabling roles. The paper concludes with policy proposals with respect to the nature and content of schooling and improvements in how government benefits are accessed by these young people.
Centre for Commonwealth Education, University of Cambridge, UK, WP24/09, 51 pp.