Disability Under Siege is a co-created programme bringing together a community of researchers, educational practitioners, advocacy organisations and disability led groups in the UK and Middle East.  It will contribute to research efforts by providing intellectual and logistical resources that local practitioners need to transform education provision for children with disabilities in conflict-affected countries. 

infographic showing geographies of focus map of middle east

There is an established link between conflict, and poor development outcomes. For many Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs) the presence, and legacy, of violence within their own borders or in neighbouring states hinders existing efforts to enhance development, while also placing additional burdens upon the state.

The consequences of conflict and crisis echo throughout society, but the challenge it poses for education provision for those with disabilities is particularly acute. Instability erodes existing capacity, whilst simultaneously increasing demand, as the proportion of the population with a disability, either as a result of physical or psychological trauma, rises. Research commissioned by UNICEF indicates that over 85% of children with disabilities have never attended school, yet despite this, the link between conflict, disability and access to education is under-examined.

While the activities of the Network Plus project will initially be focused on the Middle East, the intended outcomes will be scalable to other comparable contexts across the works and with the ultimate aim of contributing to the UN Sustainable goals (UN SDGs) 4, 10 and 17.

Our Objectives

The Disability Under Siege Network Plus has the overarching objective of providing the intellectual, financial and logistical resources required by local practitioners to deliver a transformational step change in education provision for children with disabilities in conflict-affected states.

Our Approach

Capacity Building

The project will establish a series of North-South and South-South partnerships that will serve as pathways for activities such as: research and leadership skills training through Pathways to Impact workshops, seminars and conferences; sharing best practice in ethics, safeguarding, risk and equitable working through focused training events; the setting up of a regional coordinating hub on disability, education and conflict. The Network Plus also aims to create a series of resources that will enhance the ability of regional providers to deliver research and services, including: bi-lingual database of studies in disability, utilising existing partner institution journals in the region; development of national/local databases disaggregated by disability and establishing disability-led initiatives for sustainable and community-based programmes of inclusive activity.

Strengthening the Knowledge Economy

Changing the narrative on disability and enabling inclusive learning is one of the key aims of the Disability under Siege Network Plus. We aim to achieve this by strengthening the evidence base and improving public understanding and perceptions of these subjects. The programme will develop an interdisciplinary literature drawing from social movements literatures, social and cognitive psychological theories of attitudinal change, coupled with the inter/multi-disciplinary humanities, social science and medical literatures on disability, the body and affect. Arts and humanities methodologies will be drawn on to support inclusion in formal and non-formal contexts of education. Through the co-creation of knowledge published in academic journals and presented at international conferences, we will advance global understanding of the challenges of disability in education in contexts of conflict and crisis. Outputs will be co-authored and co-presented, and opportunities for Early Career researchers ring-fenced.

Cultural Impact

The Network Plus will place a strong emphasis on the production of research informed outputs that improve the ability of education providers to deliver their services. Outputs could include training courses (Distance learning/ MOOCs), technological innovations, co-developing new curricula, pedagogical practices in formal and non-formal educational settings and creating school-school and school-community partnerships. We will also reach beyond front line educators by creating policy briefings (NGOs and governments) and public engagement deliverables using visual media such as film, performance and literary festivals. The team will use the networks available to the core team, project partners and regional contacts to effectively disseminate outputs.

The Disability Under Siege project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of Global Challenges Research Council (GCRF) Network Plus. The Collective Programme aims to build equitable partnerships between the Global South and the Global North, and encourage collaborations between universities, NGOs, educators, artists and grassroots activists, in particular people with disabilities.

Disability Under Siege research partners include Birzeit University (Palestine), Birmingham City University (UK), Islamic University of Gaza (Palestine), and the Centre for Lebanese Studies (Lebanon), which bring complementary expertise in the fields of education under occupation, inclusion, public health and social action, visual culture and participative arts, disability and social justice.