Pursuing Inclusive Higher Education in Egypt and Beyond through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Pursuing Inclusive Higher Education in Egypt and Beyond through the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities


  • Janet E. Lord Harvard Law School Project on Disability, Harvard Law School, USA
  • Michael Ashley Stein Harvard Law School Project on Disability, Harvard Law School, USA


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Abstract:  Inclusive higher education is elusive for students with disabilities, especially in developing countries. The adoption and rapid ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) provides, if applied as its drafters intended, a “whole of institution” framework for its realization (CRPD Committee, 2016). Myriad legal, attitudinal, physical, and communication-based barriers limit or exclude participation. The individual impact of such discrimination is clear and carries lifelong consequences. Equally endemic are the broad societal and pedagogical effects of this exclusion. To illustrate: preventing persons with disabilities from Teacher Education courses impacts inclusive education in primary and secondary education; barring people with disabilities from academic programs in the sciences stifles innovation in assistive technology, health, and rehabilitation; and limiting access to studying the humanities hampers the emergence of disability studies as a rightful discipline. This article presents a framework for inclusive higher education in developing countries as contemplated by the CRPD. In doing so, we draw on field work conducting the first assessment of the accessibility of Egyptian public higher education to students with disabilities. We outline lessons that can be learned and pitfalls to be avoided both in Egypt and indeed for other countries in the Global South.

Keywords:  accessibility; Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; disability rights; Egypt; Global South; higher education; human rights; inclusive education; international development; students

Published:   6 December 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i4.1709


© Janet E. Lord, Michael Ashley Stein. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.