Including People with Disability in Education: A Persistent for Future India

A/Prof. Nathan Grills1,2, Mr Jacob  Devabhaktula3, Ms Pam Anderson1, Ms Nicole  Butcher1, ms  Sarojitha Arokiaraj3, Mr Prottoy Das3

1The Nossal Institute for Global Health, University Of Melbourne, melbourne, Australia, 2Australia India Institute, melbourne, Australia, 3World Vision, Chennai, India

India’s National Education Policy (2019) is ambitious and future focussed but its implementation needs to be inclusive to improve the lives of children with disability in India.  The pre-existing Right To Education Act in India (2009) aimed to give access to all children yet the impact of the Act on children with disability in socioeconomically disadvantaged communities in India is unclear.  We conducted a cross-sectional study using randomised cluster sampling to measure access of children with disability to education and explore the relationship between disability, education and health among children in India. The study across 17 states included 39,723 households and 163,400 individual children.  Key outcomes of interest were school attendance, completion of early childhood education and highest level of education. The study found a one percent prevalence of disability in children aged 1-5, with a higher prevalence among boys.  Disability was linked disability to poorer access to education and a lower highest levels of education. This study confirmed the negative relationship between disability and educational exposure among children.  We highlight reasons for the failure of India’s current efforts and explore how the new National Education Policy can make improve access to education for children with disability in India.


Associate Professor Nathan Grills (MBBS, MPH, DPHIL, DPH) is a Public Health Physician at the Nossal Institute for Global health, University of Melbourne. He works on community health and disability largely in the Indian context.
Grills has a personal and professional interest in disability. Academically he researches on disability measurement. Programmatically he established the Samvedna Community Based Disability in India and has overseen the establishment of a national network of organisations responding to disability in India. Personally, he has a beautiful 5 year old daughter who has a profound developmental disability.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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