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The impact of Covid-19 on access and inclusion for people with disabilities in Indonesia’s higher education

Slamet Thohari, Dina Afrianty, Tommy H. Firmanda, Mahalli

Research objectives

This research aims to capture the experiences of students with disabilities in Indonesia in doing online learning during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will investigate how government institutions and tertiary educational institutions make adjustments to accommodate the need of students who have disabilities. This research will inform the extent to which Indonesian government has promoted equality and eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities entering tertiary education.


Sustainable Development Goals is a framework for all governments to act in creating a better future for every individual. Goal number 4 of SDGs identifies the pathways to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and the promotion of lifelong learning for all including people with disabilities. Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) that Indonesia ratified in 2011 stipulates guidelines for the government to ensure inclusion of people with disabilities into the education sector by making adjustments and providing accommodation to fulfil the different needs of people with disabilities. Following this, the Indonesian government has introduced a number of national and local policies to fulfill the rights of people with disabilities to quality education.

Access to quality education is every individual’s basic human rights. It is a pathway to have a meaningful life and be independent. A report published by SMERU in 2019 indicates that the higher the level of education, the lower the representation of people with disabilities. Lack of access to secondary and tertiary education is a major barrier for people with disabilities to participate in public life including in the employment sector. Inability to enter the workforce will result in people with disabilities losing their ability to be independent and exercise freedom. The same report indicates that the number of people with disabilities working in the informal sector is much higher than their non-disabled peers. It is believed that lack of access to tertiary education is the reason behind it. Poor policies, knowledge, and infrastructure are some of the major barriers that have continued to prevent the inclusion of people with disabilities in tertiary education.


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