Re-imagining discourses of disability at higher education institutions in democratic Malawi

Victor Chikaipa (Lead Author), John A. Chirwa, Chikumbutso H. Manthalu, Anthony M. Gunde

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


University education is a critical arena for persons with disabilities in both qualifying for higher-level certificates and construction of identity that has a considerable effect on their active participation in national democratic citizenship. In Malawi, statistics show that there has been a steady increase of students with disabilities attending primary and secondary education. However, discourses surrounding disability at higher education (HE) level have received little research attention. This chapter draws from the experiences and outcomes of students with disabilities from different public universities in Malawi to critically analyse the emerging discourses within the social context of learning and teaching, physical environment and school governance, and how these affect preparing students for national democratic citizenship. Results reveal that both the management and student communities at universities have largely failed to integrate persons with disabilities fully, thereby nurturing a negative identity, which also translates into their marginal participation at national level. Regardless of the commitments made to improve the special needs education through local and international conventions, funding, treaties and policies, students with disabilities still do not benefit much from higher education in Malawi. There is no transformative inclusivity and interaction in different areas or capacities of mutual concern, such as policy formulation and other activities. Thus, the chapter argues that negative attitudes and stigmatisation towards inclusion have serious implications for students with disabilities training in deliberative communication and participation in the nation's democratic citizenship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation, Communication and Democracy in Africa
Subtitle of host publicationA democratic pedagogy for the future
EditorsChikumbutso Herbert Manthalu, Victor Chikaipa, Anthony Mavuto Gunde
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003125440
ISBN (Print)9780367646097
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2021

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