In December 2006, the United Nations Convention for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted. Since then, 166 countries, including Morocco, have ratified the Convention (United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2016a). This landmark treaty is generally seen to represent a global paradigm shift from viewing disability as something pitiable that requires charity toward viewing disability as a human rights issue. The CRPD also creates the international standard for education of children with disabilities by stating that children with disabilities should be educated in inclusive settings alongside their non-disabled peers and should receive instruction in sign language and have access to materials in braille when needed (United Nations, 2006). Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Goals, established in 2015, serve as a set of aspirational goals for countries to work toward over the next 15 years and also address disability within education targets (United Nations, 2015).1 As a result of emerging international laws and policy frameworks, many countries worldwide are looking to reform their education systems to better address the educational needs of individuals with disabilities.
Morocco is one of those countries looking to improve educational opportunities for children with disabilities. As part of this strategy, the Morocco Ministry of National Education and Vocational Training (MNEVT) requested support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to conduct an assessment of the current situation of children who are blind or have low vision or who are deaf or hard of hearing. This assessment compares the current situation in Morocco with international standards and best practices in order to develop recommendations to improve upon current gaps in services.
Under USAID’s guidance, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International coordinated a team of international, regional, and local experts in the field of education for children with disabilities to conduct an in-depth assessment in Morocco. This assessment included a review of more than 70 documents on international laws and standards related to inclusive education, the general education system in Morocco, and laws and past reports on the education of children with disabilities in the country. The assessment also included phone and in-person meetings with key stakeholders as well as observations of special education schools and classrooms in the country. Though the assessment was conducted independently by RTI International, the MNEVT was a collaborative partner and provided the research team with key information, supported the team in linking with relevant stakeholders, and coordinated school observations within the country.