Education of Children with Special Needs in Ethiopia: Analysis of the Rhetoric of „Education For All‟ and the Reality on the Ground

  • Belay Tefera
  • Fantahun Admas
  • Missaye Mulatie


The Ethiopian Government appears to show commitment to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and „Education For All‟ (EFA) by ratifying different international conventions and enshrining them in its various domestic laws, policies, strategies, and programs. However, the reality on the ground indicates that there is limited progress towards implementing these legal instruments when it comes to the education of children with special needs. This study compares the rhetoric of „„education for all‟‟ and the ground reality. The methods employed included, first and foremost, consultation of relevant legal framework (FDRE Constitution), policy (FDRE Education and Training Policy), program (ESDPs), national directive (GTP) and strategy documents (SNE strategy). Then, secondary data were employed from statistical publications of Ministry of Education mainly from 2008/9-2012/13. More importantly, almost all accessible local empirical investigations and student dissertations on the education of children with special needs or inclusive education in Ethiopia from the inception till 2014/15 were also reviewed. The „Curriculum Relation Model‟ of inclusive education was used to analyze and synthesize literature and data. The major observation from the analysis indicates that the education of children with special needs was alarmingly low. The analysis revealed that the proper realization of inclusion for children with special needs is less likely even in the time to come. Hence, it was underscored, on the one hand, that there is a need to tame ambitions to the principle of „education for some‟ rather than „education for all‟, through „any available educational modality‟ (may not necessarily be pure inclusive approach type) and, on the other hand, reverse the top-down inclusive approach (passed from international and national call, slogan, and approach) to a bottom-up initiative of a more innovative, culturally sensitive, cost-effective, and community resource-based inclusive model school, which can successively be refined, and then gradually scale up lessons.


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How to Cite
TEFERA, Belay; ADMAS, Fantahun; MULATIE, Missaye. Education of Children with Special Needs in Ethiopia: Analysis of the Rhetoric of „Education For All‟ and the Reality on the Ground. The Ethiopian Journal of Education, [S.l.], v. 35, n. 1, p. 45-97, june 2015. ISSN 0425-4414. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 sep. 2017.