Educational lnclusion of Children with Disabilities in Sri Lanka: Developing a model that responds to the country's social context



Principal Researcher/Investigator

Dr Hiroko Furuta

Dr Hiroko Furuta, Graduate School of Education, Kumamoto University

Short biography

Dr Hiroko Furuta was awarded a PhD in Disability Sciences from the University of Tsukuba in Japan. She has previously worked as an early intervention specialist/speech pathologist for children with hearing impairments and has also served as a development specialist for JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) in Sri Lanka. Her research interests encompass special/inclusive education in Asian countries as well as issues pertaining to the gender and education of people with disabilities. She has been engaged for the last 23 years at the present university to train prospective teachers of special/inclusive education.

Major publications
  1. Furuta, H. and Alwis, K. A. C. (2020). Inclusive education in Sri Lanka: Factors contributing to good practices. UNESCO Policy Brief. Center for the Study of International Cooperation in Education, Hiroshima University. 49-58.
  2. Furuta, H. and Alwis, K. A. C. (2017). Teaching students with special educational needs in an inclusive setting in Sri Lanka: Regular class teacher’s view. Journal of International Cooperation in Education, 19(2), 1-18.
  3. Furuta, H. (2009). Responding to educational needs of children with disabilities: Care and education in special pre-schools in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka. The Japanese Journal of Special Education, 46(6), 457-471.
  4. Furuta, H. (2006). Present status of education of children with disabilities in Sri Lanka: Implications for increasing access to education. The Japanese Journal of Special Education, 43(6), 555-565.
  5. Furuta, H. and Yoshino, T. (1998). The present situation of the use of hearing aids in rural areas of Sri Lanka: problems and future prospects. International Journal of Rehabilitation Research, 21(1), 103-108.

Co Researcher


Dr Jun Kawaguchi, the College of Education, University of Tsukuba

Short biography

Dr Jun Kawaguchi has served as Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Tsukuba since 2021. He obtained an M.A. in International Relations and earned a Doctorate from the Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, Waseda University, in Japan.

Major publications
  1. Kawaguchi, J. (2021). The acceptance situation of inclusive education in Kenya -Perceptions of parents, communities and teachers. In Nishimura, M. (Ed.). Community participation with schools in developing countries: Towards equitable and inclusive basic education for all (pp.135-148), Routledge.
  2. Kawaguchi, J. (2013). Enhancing the capacity of science teachers in Palestine: a case of triangular educational cooperation between Jordan, Palestine and Japan. In Kato, H. (Ed.). Tackling global challenges through triangular cooperation (pp.175-188), JICA Research Institute.


Dr Sae Nakamura, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo

Short biography

Sae Nakamura is an Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the University of Tokyo. She has conducted her fieldwork mainly in Sri Lanka, and obtained her doctorate degree in Area Studies from the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, in 2014. Her concerns are broadly aimed at themes in cultural/medical anthropology with a focus on ageing, care, and inter-corporeal communication.

Major publications
  1. Matsuo, M, Nakamura, S and Funahashi, K. (Eds). (2023). Life, illness, and death in contemporary South Asia: Living through the age of hope and precariousness. Routledge.
  2. Nakamura, S. (2022). Destitution in old age: living through asymmetrical relations. In Awaya, T., and Tomozawa, K. (Eds.). Inclusive Development in South Asia, Routledge.
  3. Nakamura, S. (2021). Enriching the intersection of ethnography and moral philosophy: How we attend to/deflect from other’s reality. In Cultural Anthropology, 86(2) 250-268 (in Japanese). 
  4. Nakamura, S. (2021). Fiction in the making of intimacy in old age: a case from Sri Lanka. In Contemporary South Asia vol.29.
  5. Nakamura, S. (2017). Communicative Body: An Ethnography of Home for Elders in Sri Lanka (in Japanese), Nakanishiya Publisher.


Dr Masateru Higashida

Dr Masateru Higashida, Asian Research Institute for International Social Work, Shukutoku University

Short biography

Dr Masateru Higashida’s practical experience includes work in the disability sector in Japan from 2005 to 2012, in Sri Lanka from 2013 to 2015, and in Mongolia from 2018 to 2020. In 2016, he completed a master’s degree in Public Health in International Development with distinction from the University of Sheffield in the UK and was awarded a doctoral degree in Human Sciences from Osaka University in Japan, in 2020. His current research interests include international social work and disability issues.

Major publications
  1. Higashida, M. (2021). Education and training opportunities for local and indigenous social workers: case studies in disability-related fields from an international development perspective. Social Work Education. (in press)
  2. Higashida, M. (2017). The relationship between the community participation of disabled youth and socio-economic factors: mixed-methods approach in rural Sri Lanka. Disability & Society, 32(8), 1239-1262.

Sri Lankan or international collaborators

Sri Lanka

Dr S.M.P.W.K. Sethunga

Dr S.M.P.W.K. Sethunga, University of Peradeniya

Short biography

Prasad Sethunga is an Associate Professor in Education and he was awarded Bachelor’s Degree in Education from the Kyoto University of Education, Japan in 1990 and received Master of Education in Education Administration from the same university in 1993. Prof. Sethunga obtained his PhD in Education from the University of Tsukuba, Japan in 1998 while working as a Research Associate at Tsukuba for three years. He joined the Department of Education at the University of Peradeniya as a Senior Lecturer in 1999 and he was the former Head of the Department from 2005 to 2011 and former Director of the Internal Quality Assurance Unit from 2017 to 2019. He was the principal researcher of the Study on the Professional Development of Teachers and Teacher Educators in Sri Lanka, which is a national policy research conducted for the National Education Commission (NEC) Sri Lanka funded by the Transforming School Education Project (TSEP) World Bank in 2016. He is a lead consultant for designing of the National Education Policy Framework (2020-2030) Sri Lanka with the National Education Commission, Sri Lanka. Prof. Sethunga was the research advisor of the 1st national Action Research Conference on Higher Education held in the University of Sri Jayawardenapura, Sri Lanka in 2021.

Major publications
  1. Sethunga, P., Mampitiya, U., & Bandara, A. (2021). Role of the Regional Education Services (RES) towards effective learner support services of ODL in Sri Lanka: Stakeholder perspectives. Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Asian Association of Open Universities, 2, 229-241.
  2. Furuta, H., Sakurai, R., & Sethunga, P. (2021). The process of including special schools in an inclusive education system: a comparative study of two South Asian countries, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. Departmental Bulletin Paper (Faculty of Education, Kumamoto University),70, 83-89. (in Japanese)
  3. Sethunga, P., et al. (2014). Study on the professional development of teachers and teacher educators in Sri Lanka. National Education Commission, Sri Lanka.

Prof J.H.Chandani Liyanage

Prof J.H.Chandani Liyanage, Department of Sociology, University of Colombo

Short biography

Chandani Liyanage is a Professor, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Colombo. Prof. Liyanage was the Founding Director of the Centre for Disability Research, Education and Practice (CEDREP), former Chairperson of the Ethics Review Committee for Social Sciences and Humanities (ERCSSH) at the Faculty of Arts and served as the Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Colombo. She also contributed as a committee member of Ethics Review Committees at the Medical Faculty and Institute of Indigenous Medicine, University of Colombo. Prof. Liyanage has received Fulbright Advanced Research & Lecturing Award, and affiliated to Center for South Asian Studies at Syracuse University, and a fellowship for Professionals-on Demand for Disability Rights in USA. She works on issues of health, illness, disability, traditional medicine and social policy analysis. She has published in journals of repute and book chapters including disability, traditional medicine and primary healthcare and contemporary health issues in Sri Lanka.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Major publications
  1. Liyanage, C. (2022). Chronic kidney disease of uncertain Etiology in Sri Lanka: Curing between medicine and traditional culture. Social Sciences, 11(1), 20.
  2. Liyanage, C. & Huguchi, M. (2019). Socio-cultural dimensions of non-communicable diseases prevention: Intervention-based study at Padukka MOH division in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Population Studies, 20(1), 21-35.
  3. Liyanage, C. (2017). Sociocultural construction of disability in Sri Lanka: Charity to rights-based approach. In Halder, S. & Assaf, L.C, (Eds.). Inclusion, disability and culture: An ethnographic perspective traversing abilities and challenge (pp. 251-265). Springer.

Mr Sriskantharajah Sivakanthan

Mr Sriskantharajah Sivakanthan, Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts and Community and Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Jaffna

Short biography

Mr S. Sivakanthan received his first degree (B.A. in Sociology with first-class Honours) in 2006 and earned his postgraduate degree (M.Phil. in Sociology) in 2015 from the University of Peradeniya. He began his career as a lecturer in 2010 at the Department of Sociology and at the Department of Community and Family Medicine, University of Jaffna. He has served as a senior lecturer in Sociology at the University of Jaffna since 2015. His research efforts are directed towards disability, education and health care. He was the editor-in-chief of the Jaffna Science Association and the managing editor of the South Asian Studies of the Faculty of Arts, University of Jaffna. He has provided consultancy services for community-based research projects conducted by various local and international non-governmental organisations in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka.

Major publications
  1. Silva, K.T., Razaak, M.G.M., Herath, D., Usoof-Thowfeek, R., Sivakanthan, S. and Kunanayaham, V. (2018). Postwar livelihood trends in North-East Sri Lanka. In Background Paper No.5. The socio-economic assessment of the conflict affected Northern and Eastern Provinces, Kandy: International Centre for Ethnic Studies.
  2. Sivakanthan, S. (2018). A medical sociological study on stigma and discrimination among people with war-related disabilities in the Kilinochchi District. In the South Asia Conference on Multidisciplinary Research (SAMR’18).

Dr K.A.C. Alwis

Dr K.A.C. Alwis, Faculty of Education, the Open University of Sri Lanka

Short biography

Dr K.A.C. Alwis is a senior consultant and a former head of the Department of Special Needs Education, Faculty of Education at the Open University of Sri Lanka. She obtained a PhD in special education from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan and earned a master’s degree in special education from the Gothenburg University in Sweden. She is consulting editor of the UMT Education Review and a member of the review board for the SAARC Journal of Educational Research.

Major publications
  1. Alwis, A. (2015). Instructions in inclusive classrooms: Sri Lankan experience. Journal of Special Needs Education, 5, 5-26.
  2. Furuta, H., & Alwis, K. A. C. (2017). Teaching students with special educational needs in an inclusive educational setting in Sri Lanka: Regular class teacher's view. Journal of International Cooperation in Education, 19(2), 1-18.

Mrs S. M. Dawson

Mrs S. M. Dawson, Horizon Campus

Short biography

Mrs Shanthamalar Michael Dawson is a Visiting Lecturer at the Horizon Campus in Malabe. She also serves as a resource person of the National Institute of Education in Maharagama. She has accrued work experience of over 37 years, serving as a teacher, adviser on primary science and special education, principal, and assistant director of education.

Major publications
  1. Dawson, S.M. (2021). Programme & extended abstract book: Moving towards inclusive education in plantation sector schools of Sri Lanka. National Institute of Education.
  2. Dawson, S.M. (2016). Multiple disabilities: A resource book on teaching children with multiple disabilities. National Institute of Education, Sri Lanka.
  3. Dawson, S.M. (2010). Teaching children with intellectual disabilities. Special Education Department, National Institute of Education, Sri Lanka.

United Kingdom

Dr Paul Lynch

Dr Paul Lynch, School of Education, University of Glasgow, UK.

Short biography

Dr Paul Lynch joined the Culture, Literacies, Inclusion and Pedagogy research and teaching group at the University of Glasgow School of Education in October 2020. He was previously a member of the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs at the University of Birmingham. He is interested in a range of themes associated with children, childhood and disability in the Global South. He is intensely interested in exploring the relationship between the education, health and social protection of children with neuro-developmental disabilities.

Major publications
  1. Lynch, P., & Soni, A. (2021). Widening the focus of school readiness for children with disabilities in Malawi: a critical review of the literature. International Journal of Inclusive Education. (in press)
  2. Lynch, P., Gladstone, M., McLinden, M., Douglas, G., Jolley, E., Schmidt, E., & Chimoyo, J. (2018). ‘I have learnt to love the child and give opportunities to play with peers’: A feasibility study of the training programme to support parents of young children with visual impairment in Malawi. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 16(2), 210-225.


Dr Upali Chakravarti

Dr Upali Chakravarti, Department of Elementary Education, Miranda House, University of Delhi, India

Short biography

Dr Upali Chakravarti earned a Ph.D. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She completed her master’s degree in psychology from the University of Delhi. Her areas of specialisation include developmental psychology and special education. Her doctoral research work focused on issues of disability and care work, highlighting the care-related work roles discharged by mothers and family members of persons with disability. The work also highlighted the state functions in formulating policy frameworks.

The areas of developmental psychology, special education and disability studies specifically interest Dr Chakravarti, who has been a member of several undergraduate and postgraduate course committees for special education and disability studies. She has also guided students in research dissertations. She has been a panellist and discussant at several conferences and workshops and has consulted on projects related to disability. She has also accumulated several years of hands-on work experience with CwDs.

Major publications
  1. Chakravarti, U. (2018). Disability and care work: State, society and invisible lives. SAGE Publishing India.
  2. Chakravarti, U. (2015). A gendered perspective of disability studies. In Asha Hans (Ed.). Disability, gender and the trajectories of power (pp. 23-41), Sage India.
  3. Chakravarti, U. (2013). Burden of caring: families of the disabled in urban India. In Renu Addlakha (Ed.). Disability studies in India: Global discourses, local realities. Routledge India.
  4. Chakravarti, U. (2006). Towards a disability studies perspective in India: A review of existing literature, International Journal of Disability Studies, 2(2), 125-145,