Assessing El Salvador's Capacity For Creating Inclusive Educational Opportunities for Students with Disabilities Using a Capacity Assessment Framework

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Increasing education access for children throughout the world is a frequently discussed topic in the international community. Efforts to meet international goals such as Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals have included providing developing nations with grants, loans and other services such as technical assistance. Despite these efforts, there are many students who still do not have access to an education, with many students being those with disabilities. Through an exploratory case study, a capacity assessment framework was used to assess El Salvador's capacity for creating inclusive educational opportunities for students with disabilities. Interviews with government officials, non-governmental organizations, parents, teachers, and school administrators were conducted. Additional data was collected through observations and document reviews. The results of the study indicate the need for capacity building assessments as such assessments reveal the strengths and needs of a system's ability to provide inclusive educational opportunities for students with disabilities. El Salvador's strengths include the presence of established policies identifying students with disabilities and the presence of an entity (CONAIPD) which brings private and public organizations together to discuss access issues related to persons with disabilities. Furthermore, there are several advocacy organizations trying to increase their involvement and supports for parents and schools in order to increase and improve educational access and opportunities for students with disabilities. The capacity assessment also revealed the areas of need for El Salvador to increase its capacity in providing inclusive educational opportunities for students with disabilities, which included strengthening authority legitimacy, developing a consistent definition and identification process for students with disabilities and increasing teacher training and resources. Collectively, these results imply the need for additional capacity assessments as well as the need to reassess the assistance provided to nations with developing school systems that are trying to meet goals set forth by the international community.