Bottlenecks to Inclusive Higher Education for Students with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Tanzania
Keywords:Bottlenecks,inclusive higher education, COVID-19 pandemic, students with disabilities
AbstractThis study explored the bottlenecks to the inclusive higher education for students with disabilities (SWD) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Tanzaniaand ways proposed to overcome them. The study useda qualitative approach that was informed by the phenomenological and multiple holistic case study design. A total of 158 research participants from four higher learning institutions in Tanzania were involved. They included 28 academic staff and 28 wardens who were selected through simple random selection.Others were 4 deans of students, 80 students with disabilities, 2 students’ leaders with disabilities, 8 personal assistants of students with physical impairments,and 8 heads of academic departments (these were purposively selected). The sample size was, however, determined by the point of saturation. Data were collected through interviews, focus group discussion (FGD), and direct observation where thematic analysis was used for data analysis. The findings revealed that allocation of rooms without consideration to SWDs and their personal assistants, difficulties in accessing information, unhygienic hostels, mobility difficulties, difficulties in access to preventive facilities and inadequate counselling services were part of the bottlenecks to inclusive higher education among SWD during COVID-19. The paper suggestsways to overcome the bottlenecks to inclusive education such as allocating rooms for SWDs and their assistants, improvement of infrastructures, orientation on mobility, and purchasing facilities and equipment which improvehygiene within inclusive education. It is recommended in this paper that the universities should establish units and resource centres well furnished with necessary equipment for students with disabilities which will be responsible for all matters related to SWDs.