Development and pilot evaluation of a teacher training to support children with developmental disorders in mainstream school settings in Ethiopia

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Psychology


In Ethiopia there is a severe lack of services for children with
developmental disorders (DD), including autism spectrum
disorders (ASD) and intellectual disabilities (ID) (Tekola et al.,
2016). Stigma surrounding DD is high (Tilahun et al., 2016).
Critically, 47.1% of caregivers who took part in a structuredquestionnaire survey reported unmet needs in receiving
professional support for their children with DD (Tilahun et al.,
2016). An even higher proportion, 74.5% of caregivers,
reported that their children's educational needs were unmet.
This failure has been identified as the largest gap in service
provision for children with DD in Ethiopia (Tilahun et al.,
2016). The most recent Ethiopian Education Sector
Development Programme (Federal Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia Ministry of Education, 2015) found that primaryschool education was provided to only 4% of children with
special needs. While the programme reported an aspiration
to increase this proportion to 75% by 2020, it also identified
financial barriers to the achievement of this goal (Federal
Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Education, 2015).
A total of 120 children are enrolled in two schools for children
with ASD in the capital city, Addis Ababa, and inclusive
9 / 12
education programmes are present in some mainstream
schools (Tekola et al., 2016). However, most children with DD
remain unschooled, because of low capacity of these
programmes (Tekola et al., 2016), stigma and lack of
teachers' expertise and training in special needs education
(Franck & Joshi, 2017). An increase in teachers' expertise in
mainstream schools is particularly desirable, considering that
inclusive education, as opposed to segregated education,
has internationally been recognised as a right for children
with DD (Lindsay, 2007) and is endorsed in Ethiopia by the
Ministry of Education (Federal Democratic Republic of
Ethiopia Ministry of Education, 2015). The founder of the Joy
Centre, one of the two autism schools in Addis Ababa, has
also identified a need for training teachers in mainstream
schools to provide inclusive education and started providing
this personally (Tekola et al., 2016), but the effects have not
been formally assessed. A cost-effective, easily-delivered
manualised teacher-training incorporating her experience, as
well as best inclusive education practice from the
international literature, can contribute to improving and
expanding inclusive education for children with DD in
Ethiopia. Applying the task-sharing approach successfully
implemented in several psychosocial interventions in Global
Mental Health (Patel et al., 2018) in which more specialist
responsibilities are transferred to less-specialised staff, a
sustainable inclusive education model will be developed,
including supervision and refresher training.
Research aims
The main aim of my proposed research is to develop and
evaluate a teacher training model of inclusive education to
support mainstream primary-school children with DD in
Ethiopia. I intend to achieve this through three research
phases, each with an individual aim:
A) A systematic review of the existing literature on inclusive
education interventions and teacher trainings to support to
children with DD in high, low and middle income countries;
B) A qualitative exploratory study to assess the main
challenges faced by teachers and key stakeholders within the
educational system in meeting the needs of children with DD
in school settings in Ethiopia and the possible ways to
overcome them; educational needs identified by caregivers
have previously been investigated (Tilahun et al., 2016)
C) The co-development, piloting and evaluation of an
inclusive education task-sharing intervention based on a
cost-effective and easily-delivered manualised training model
of mainstream primary-school teachers aimed to promote
effective support to children with DD.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000703/1 30/09/2017 29/09/2027
2297139 Studentship ES/P000703/1 30/09/2019 31/12/2023 Elisa Genovesi