Overcoming barriers to education for refugees with disabilities

Laura Smith-Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises that access to education is essential to enabling individual empowerment. Persons with disabilities are statistically less likely to be able to access education, undermining their empowerment and thus their ability to achieve full human rights. When persons with disabilities are also affected by forced migration, the obstacles they face often increase. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (‘UNHCR’) has published guidelines to address this important issue, but it is yet to be seen how well these are implemented in the field. Refugees with disabilities often experience added barriers to education as a result of their displacement situations. This article will explore the connection between education and empowerment. It will draw on field research in Indonesia and Malaysia exploring the situation for refugees with disabilities and identify the specific barriers refugee children and adults with disabilities face when accessing education in those locations. Finally, it will evaluate the extent to which UNHCR and its partners are following their guidelines and addressing these barriers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-67
Number of pages5
JournalMigration Australia
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Inclusive education
  • Disability
  • Displacement
  • Refugee
  • School
  • CRPD


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