GCRF Network Plus: Disability under Siege

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Education

Abstract

There is an established link between conflict and protracted instability, and poor development outcomes (World Bank, 2011) . For many Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) the presence, and legacy, of violence within their own borders or in neighbouring states hinders existing efforts to enhance development, while also placing additional burdens upon the state.

The consequences of conflict and crisis echo throughout society, but the challenge it poses for education provision for those with disabilities is particularly acute. Instability erodes existing capacity, whilst simultaneously increasing demand, as the proportion of the population with a disability, either as a result of physical or psychological trauma, rises. Research commissioned by UNICEF indicates that over 85% of children with disabilities have never attended school (Mizanoya et al. 2016), yet despite this, the link between conflict, disability and access to education is under-examined.

The 'Disability Under Siege' Network Plus, has the overarching objective of providing the intellectual, financial and logistical resources required by local practitioners to deliver a transformational step change in education provision for children with disabilities in conflict affected states. By achieving this, the project will challenge the status quo that currently results in the majority of children with disabilities in conflict affected LMICs never attending school, and will significantly improve education provision for those that do receive education.

In order to maximize the impact of this Network Plus the project will focus on one specific region: The Middle East, and specifically the countries of Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine (West Bank and Gaza Strip). This region has been chosen as the following factors make it an excellent location to deliver improved outcomes for those with disabilities: i) there is significant under-reporting of disability, in part due to societal stigma, and in part due to dominant narrow medical models of disability; ii) there are high rates of conflict-related disability in all three locations, with refugee flows from the wider region (Syria and Iraq) creating an additional burden; iii) the locations have a large youth population; iv) 95% of children with disabilities are excluded from primary school (HRW, 2016); v) There is an effective, but under resourced, network of local partners who are able to effectively engage with the opportunities offered by the Network plus.

In order to truly understand and make progress against this challenge, a cross disciplinary approach is necessary. How disability is understood in the various domains of health sciences, law, religion and culture underpins education policy and practice as well as the prioritisation and allocation of resources. Furthermore, the role of arts and humanities have a significant potential for shaping public knowledge on disability, for example, the 1970s Disability Arts movement in the UK, contributed substantively to the culmination of 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. Consequently, the project team comprises of researchers from a range of disciplines, based in both the Global North and Global South, all with a shared commitment to transforming education provision for some of the most vulnerable populations in fragile and conflict affected states.

Planned Impact

The Disability under Siege programme has been developed collaboratively with partners and stakeholders from the Middle East, specifically in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank. This spirit of co-production coupled with a commitment to multidisciplinarity maximises the potential of the programme to deliver meaningful impact in the focus countries and beyond.

The main impact goals of the Network Plus are:
i) Re-shaping public understanding of disability in contexts of conflict and crisis;
ii) Supporting research and evidence building to change public policies ad practices regarding disability inclusion in education;
iii) Enhancing local, regional and international capacity to address issues of access, quality and participation in education for those with disabilities in formal and non-formal educational settings;
iv) Legacy-building through the coordination and integration of outputs from the programme and scaling/transferring findings to other relevant global contexts.

It is envisaged that the reach and scalable impacts of this initiative will extend to other conflict-affected regions of the developing world in the longer term.

The key intended beneficiaries are children with disabilities and their families, as they will experience improved social and economic prospects as a result of inclusive education provision. Other stakeholders with whom the Network Plus team is already engaged include:

i) Non-governmental actors and disability groups including Action on Armed Violence (London), Qattan Foundation (Ramallah), Legal Agenda (Beirut), the Special Kids Clinic at AUB Medical Center (Beirut) and a supporting parent-led network, and EMPHNET (East Mediterranean Public Health Network) based in Jordan. The Palestinian General Union of People with Disability and the Community-Based Rehabilitation Network operating in 250 locales across Palestine are also closely linked with the programme through existing relationships with Birzeit University.
ii) Educational partners, most notably Edraak, Queen Rania Foundation.
iii) Cultural partners, including Ashkal Alwan (Beirut), and the Palestine Museum (Palestine).
iv) Government partners such as Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Jordan), Humanity and Inclusion, Ministry of Education and Higher Education (Lebanon), and the Health Department within the Palestinian Ministry of Education (alumni links) are also engaged with the Network Plus.
v) International Organisations including UNESCO, UNRWA, UNHCR which are already active in the area of disability and education in the region.

Our Theory of Change (see Pathways to Impact document) contains mechanisms for continual engagement and testing of insights with local stakeholders on an equitable and mutually beneficial footing.

Impact will be realised in a range of fora, including practice based outputs that will improve the ability of education providers to deliver their services. Specific outputs will include training courses (Distance learning/ MOOCs), technological innovations, co-developing new curricula, pedagogical practices in formal and non-formal educational settings and creating school-school and school-community partnerships. The project will also facilitate co-development of national and school databases on inclusion, and co-development of a classification system of Disability based on the Washington Group (WG) questions and the WHO International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).
 
Title Change Makers 
Description Liwan Youth Space, one of our partners in Jordan has produced a series of short films called "Change Makers" that focusses on young change-makers who are expanding the space for youth participation in governance, rights and influence on their issues. In 2020, 5 short films were produced documenting the role and influence of 5 young people on the rights of people with disabilities. These films are part of a broader series that are posted via Liwan online. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Impacts as yet unknown. 
 
Title Lifecycle disability video 
Description This video was produced to raise awareness of the challenges and barriers facing people with disabilities in Lebanon at different stages throughout their lives. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact Impacts still unknown. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0DyWexeoec&t=52s
 
Description As a Network Plus Programme, equitable and sustainable partnerships are a key aim. We have been successful in further consolidating our partnerships and development new partnerships, and in engaging relevant stakeholders - including education, cultural and disability organisations, policymakers, practitioners, academics, and UN organisations (including UNRWA, UNICEF, UNHCR and ESCWA).
Key findings emerging from our Phase 1 scoping literature and practice reviews have identified key gaps in the research - notably that there is little research on disability conducted in the humanities and social sciences due to the dominance of the medical model of disability. In the arts and cultural domain, whilst there is little research on disability and the arts, there is an abundance of dynamic practice to be built on and developed. Key priorities have also been identified in relation to urgent need in the context of conflict, displacement, Covid-19 and in the Lebanese case - the Beirut Port Explosion.
Exploitation Route The outcomes to date will be carried forward into Phase 2, where there will be commissioning of research in order to address the identified gaps and priorities. Stakeholders will contribute to the commissiong development through co-consultation workshops to be held this month (March 2021).
The commissioning relates to developing the research agenda, research capacity and infrastructural legacy.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://disabilityundersiege.org/
 
Description To date: Our findings have been used by UN organisations - namely UNRWA and UNICEF who have drawn on our work in their media campaigns for the promotion of inclusivity. This has raised public awareness and thought-provoking dialogue pertaining to how the general public, as well as policymakers and practitioners understand disability. Our findings have also supported and enabled the disability movement in oPT to achieve significant gains with respect to universal health benefits for people with disabilities.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Construction,Education,Healthcare,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Guidelines on inclusive reconstruction for Beirut
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description National social protection policy Lebanon review
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
 
Description Comparative case study of impact of covid-19 on persons with disabilities in Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine: awarded as supplement to Disability Under Siege Main award
Amount £150,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2021 
End 08/2021
 
Description ESRC IAA Mentoring Scheme award
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Economic and Social Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 08/2021
 
Description UNPRPD analytical framework project for a Disability Inclusive Recovery from Covid-19
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Awarded as supplement to Disability Under Siege Main award 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2020 
End 09/2021
 
Title Arts and Culture Disability Mapping - Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine 
Description This consists of a mapping of all arts and cultural institutions and practices engaging with disability in the region. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2021 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact This is be available shortly through the disability under siege website, and is the first mapping database of arts and cultural engagements with disability in the middle east region. It will enable other researchers and practitioners to collaborate with one another in order to promote inclusive education. 
 
Description Covid-19 campaign in development with the American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanon 
Organisation American University of Beirut
Country Lebanon 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We have worked with the American University of Beirut's Department for Architecture in producing a campaign on the needs of persons with disabilities in the context of the covid-19 pandemic.
Collaborator Contribution The department of architecture at AUB has contributed its expertise in relation to inclusive design.
Impact Campaign materials.
Start Year 2020
 
Description Disability and Leadership Project 
Organisation University of Birmingham
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution A University of Birmingham coordinated group has been set up to focus on the theme of Disability and Leadership.
Collaborator Contribution See above.
Impact Some initial funding of £1,000 has been secured by a University of Birmingham group of which PI, Kiwan and Kubenz (Research Fellow) are members. A literature review is underway, so no outcomes as yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Media campaign 
Organisation American University of Beirut
Country Lebanon 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This was a social media campaign on the use of terminology and language use in relation to the topic of disability, and when talking about persons with disability. The research team brought the intellectual expertise to this campaign.
Collaborator Contribution AUB contributed in terms of social media expertise.
Impact Social media campaign materials.
Start Year 2020
 
Description UNDP collaboration 
Organisation United Nations (UN)
Department United Nations Development Programme
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution UNDP has invited our CoI in Lebanon to a consultation on transportation, and a simulation of future crises in order to prepare to inclusive planning.
Collaborator Contribution As stated above.
Impact No outcomes as yet.
Start Year 2021
 
Description UNICEF collaboration 
Organisation UNICEF
Country United States 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution UNICEF is a member of our Lebanon Co-Is Disability Hub. We are in discussion with UNICEF about plans for screening the Lifecycle video on national TV in conjunction with support by UNICEF.
Collaborator Contribution As above
Impact Ongoing - planned TV screening of video.
Start Year 2021
 
Description UNRWA collaboration 
Organisation United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Country Jordan 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution We are in the process of an agreement with UNRWA who have approached us for our video on inclusive design and language use/terminology in their campaign working in schools, and we are advising them.
Collaborator Contribution As detailed above.
Impact Ongoing.
Start Year 2021
 
Description Advisory Group, UNPRPD project 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact An advisory group has been established consisting of disabled stakeholder experts across a number of lower and middle income countries (LMICs) from Asia, South America, the Middle East and Africa.
Their role is to feed into and advise on the findings emerging from the literature review conducted to inform the development UNPRPD analytic framework for a disability-inclusive recovery from Covid-19 in LMICs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Covid-19 disability inclusive campaign Lebanon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This campaign raised the key issues and barriers for those with disabilities in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Engaging with the PWD movement at Palestinian Legislative Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Providing information and research support to PWDs engagement with the Palestinian Legislative Council. This led to the promulgation of a decision to provide PWDs and their families with free health care.
A written commentary on the social action process of the sit-in is published in the Lancet.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(21)00356-1/fulltext
 
Description GCRF Education Regional Networking event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This networking event enabled dialogue opportunities for interested stakeholders in the Middle East to learn about and engage with the Network Plus programmes working in the region.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Online rally all day radio coverage - International Disability Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact he programme was hosted by Batool Muheisen and Dr. Omar Abu Haniya (who are people with disabilities) as well as Ms. Suhair AbdulKader. It was also supported by two sign language interpreters. The rally interviewed, discussed and reflected on several topics regarding disability such as
follows:
- Terms (Say but don't say)
- Human Interest stories of persons with disability (social media influencers usch as Majd, black belt in Karate such as Hana)
- Interventions that supported and mobilized for an inclusive community
- Persons with disability (how they get over their challenges)
- The role of religion in supporting people with disability
Several speakers and guests were hosted during the rally including Dr. Suha Tabbal, Maha Barghouthi, Awatef Abu AlRub (initiative focusing on Dabkeh (folklore dance) with disabilities), Omar Arabiyat, Laila Qusous and many other guests and initiatives. Find the links below:
Rally Liwan - Session 1
https://web.facebook.com/1411704742378472/videos/774570319939178
Rally Liwan - Session 2
https://web.facebook.com/1411704742378472/videos/1091042938012173
Rally Liwan - Session 3
https://web.facebook.com/1411704742378472/videos/163719828798227
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Presentation at GCRF coordinated workshop for UNHCR on education research programmes in the Middle East 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact The workshop was convened by AHRC to provide a policy audience (initially arising out of a request from UNHCR) with information regarding ongoing GCRF Large-scale programmes focussing on education in the Middle East. I was invited to present on the work of Disability Under Siege.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Project Launch 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This was the official launch of the Disability Under Siege Main Award which was held online. Over 100 participants took part from across 15 countries, as the event was held online. The Network Plus programme of work was introduced by PI Kiwan, with country presentations from CO-Is and from the Project CO-I Cultural Lead. Discussion and questions followed, and details provided about the research commissioning stage. There was positive engagement with participants who were invited to indicate their interest in contributing to the commissioning development through co-consultations workshops planned for March 2021.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Recruitment of new PhD students 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 2 additional PhD students have been accepted at University of Birmingham affiliated to the Disabilty Under Siege Programme, one of whom is part funded by the University of Birmingham. These students are supervised by PI Kiwan, and Co-I Woodcock both University of Birmingham, and Co-I Giacaman.
An additional PhD student has been recruited to the Crerative Writing Department, University of Birmingham to work on disbility Studies, and is currently down to the last round of M4C funding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description UNPRP - AHRC Partnership Advisory Board 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This is the joint advisory board of the UNPRPD - AHRC partnership of which we are members. The remit of the advisory board is to advise on the AHRC-funded UNPRPD analytic framework project on the impact of Covid-19 on people with disabilities in LMICs across all sectors (a supplement to the main award). The aim of the project is to provide empirical evidence from a systematic research review of existing evidence, in conjucntion with the coordination of 7 AHRC-funded case studies, whose evidence will also feed into the development of the UNPRPD analytic framework for a disability inclusive recovery in LMICs.
We have presented to the board twice on the emerging findings of the literature review.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020,2021
 
Description Workshop on inclusive reconstruction of Lebanon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The panel webinar "What Would an Inclusive Beirut Look Like? A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Inclusive Reconstruction in Lebanon", was hosted in February 18th 2021 by the Lebanon CO-I organisation and chaired by PI Kiwan. Speakers included experts on inclusive education, mental health and inclusive design, and the sharing on an inclusive practices video.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://disability-hub.com/what-would-an-inclusive-beirut-look-like-a-multi-disciplinary-approach-to...