Date of Award

2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

First Advisor

Professor Glenda Campbell-Evans

Second Advisor

Dr Susan Main

Abstract

Globally, there is a growing interest in widening access and supporting participation for persons with disability in higher education. This situation is stimulated in part by major international treaties and protocols. Ghana has demonstrated its commitment to this global trend to formulate and implement national legislation on inclusive education across the country’s educational system. However, in Ghana, access to and participation in the higher education system by persons with disability remains poor despite national legislation and policies to address this issue. It appears that national policies have not fully translated into institutional policies and provisions dedicated to supporting persons with disability. This study investigated how the Inclusive Education (IE) Policy (2015) in Ghana has been reflected in institutional policies and provisions that focus on students with disability in Ghanaian public universities. The aim of the study was to explore the extent to which institutional policies, arrangements, and practices in Ghanaian public universities aligned with the IE policy and addressed disability issues to increase access and participation for persons with disability.

A qualitative approach and interpretivist paradigm were adopted using a multi-case study design. In-depth interviews were conducted with a total of 36 participants: seven policy architects from the National Steering Committee on Inclusive Education; three pro-vice chancellors; three deans of students; seven deans of school and heads of department; two heads and two staff from disability support units; as well as 12 students with disability. These participants represented architects of the IE policy and members of the three public universities in Ghana that were studied. Other data were collected from document analysis and observations and, together with data from the interviews, were used to establish how and to what extent institutional policies and provisions support access and full participation of persons with disability in Ghanaian public universities. Data from the interviews, observations, and documents were analysed thematically and presented in a narrative form.

It was evident from the findings that awareness of the IE policy and the knowledge of its contents were limited in the case study universities. Although participants’ understanding of the objectives of the IE policy was consistent with the intentions of the policy, this knowledge was based on the participants’ experience rather than their knowledge of the policy content. Findings showed that the context of each case university reflected the extent of resourcing for policy implementation. This study also revealed that although the case study universities have provisions and a range of support services available for students with disability, these did not meet the students’ expectations. Further, it became evident from the data that attitudes towards students with disability were mainly negative, impacting university experiences of persons with disability. In addition, although the public universities in this research did admit some categories of students with disability, the universities tended to provide adjustments rather than inclusion due, in part, to financial constraints.

This study has highlighted that knowledge of national legislation and policy on the inclusion of people with disability, resourcing, and attitudes at all levels of the university community have implications for widening access and supporting the participation of students with disability in public universities in Ghana. Finally, this study provides recommendations that may improve access and participation for persons with disability in Ghanaian public universities.

Available for download on Thursday, November 04, 2021

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