The project research draws upon community-based participatory research (CBPR), which involves respectful collaboration with the community. This methodology involves shared decision-making and ownership, and members of the community are involved in planning, gathering evidence, analysing it and sharing what is discovered. Men and women with disabilities are also actively encouraged to participate in becoming community researchers.
As well as asking specific research questions, the design of this kind of research seeks to break down social injustice and helps everyone to rethink power structures and issues. Approaching research this way identifies both enablers and barriers to effective inclusive education as identified by children with disabilities, their parents and teachers. It also helps men, women, boys and girls with disabilities to realise their potential through voice, agency and participation.
The overall aim of CBPR is to increase knowledge and understanding of the situation being studied together, to construct meaning together and to integrate this with interventions and policy change to improve the quality of life for the school community.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated in 2011 that 6.4% of the children aged 0 to 14 years in Africa had moderate or severe disabilities. In 2013, the report of Plan International on four West African Countries indicated that these children were subject to discriminations at all the levels of society. It appears that the type of disability, its severity and the gender of the child are key factors influencing the discrimination. With regards to education, this discrimination against children with disabilities has also been aggravated by practical obstacles, including limited access to education due to the lack of infrastructure, of classrooms and deficiencies in teacher training on inclusive education. Disability seems to have an impact on school enrolment, the quality of education and graduation. It appears that there are gender differences in relation to accessing quality education for children with disabilities. Sightsavers requires that the project research contributes to the existing knowledge base on disability inclusion in education and uses that knowledge to refine a contextually appropriate and gender-responsive approach to supporting education for girls and boys with disabilities in Senegal.