Vicarious learning as a strategy to improve inclusive education for children with disabilities: facilitating learning from experience among grassroot initiatives in Ethiopia


  • Emma E de Wit
  • Saskia C. van Veen
  • Marjolein B.M. Zweekhorst
  • Barbara J Regeer


inclusive education, vicarious learning, experiential knowledge, multiple case study


Despite the commitment to achieve Education For All, realising inclusive education (IE) for children with disabilities remains challenging. Although experiential knowledge on IE is widely available, this knowledge often remains implicit and confined. Facilitating learning processes and exchange of experiences on IE could potentially help to accelerate the advancement of IE, particularly in hard to reach areas. In this research we took a case study approach, involving three rural schools with running IE initiatives in Ethiopia. In each school, the advancement of IE was addressed through stimulating learning from others’ experiences on topics indicated as potentially challenging for IE. This process was carefully documented and reflected upon. The interventions used in each school were developed based on principles of vicarious learning, paying attention to the shared experience, the analysis process, and the emotional support provided during the sharing process. Important components of IE were found to be influenced through the 1) narration of stories by a mediator, 2) a reflection and learning workshop in a classroom and 3) the performance of a play on IE in a larger community. The three case studies show that facilitating vicarious learning was widely applicable for teachers, classes and the community. In the conclusion we pay attention to the principles of vicarious learning which helped to support educational actors developing new insights with regards to IE.



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