Swedish Research Council Project PAL: Participation for All? School and post-school pathways of young people with functional disabilities

The research project PAL, supported by the Swedish Research Council, focuses on the educational pathways of young people with a range of abilities and disabilities including their school and post-school situations. PAL aims to generate knowledge that can contribute to identifying successful criteria for transitions to adulthood for children and young adults.

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A recently published report from the UN presents alarming information regarding the situation of the disabled in Sweden. For instance, a 100 percent increase in unemployment and a dramatic increase of suicide rates are reported for the functionally disabled in Sweden since 2008. As compared to individuals at the other end of a functionality continuum, young people marked with a functional disability are less represented both within higher education and the labor market in Sweden. The situation in other countries for this group is mixed.

 

 

 

 

About the project

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Project PAL, Participation for All, will run through 2020 and focuses upon the schooling and the post-school situation of two groups of young people: young people who are deaf and those diagnosed with ADHD. Major demographic changes have taken place in both these groups in Sweden since the turn of the century: nearly all deaf toddlers receive cochlear implants (advanced hearing aids that are surgically implanted into the inner ear), and the number of children identified with ADHD has increased dramatically. These changes have significant implications for the educational pathways across school levels and transitions to post-school phases for both these groups. While both groups have started leaving upper-secondary schools in Sweden, no systematic studies have focused upon either their school, or their post-school situation. The overarching concern in project PAL is to generate knowledge that can contribute to enhancing the life spheres of children and adults whose functionality displays differences on a continuum.

Project PAL aims to (i) map the current school placements for children and young people with two types of marked functional disabilities in the nation-state of Sweden, (ii) study and identify key factors that enable a successful and meaningful transition to adulthood for the groups focused, as well as (iii) identify successful criteria for transition to adulthood for young people with FD in general as well as the two focused groups specifically based on a synthesis of international and Swedish research.

Research questions

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The following research questions will be attended to in this unique mixed-methods project:

  • What types of schools – segregated, mainstreamed, hybrid facilities – are these groups in, in the 21st century?
  • How have children and young people been prepared for transitions to adulthood during their school careers?
  • What is documented with regards to special support within different societal sectors (pre-school, school, university, rehabilitation, employment agencies, non-governmental organizations [NGO’s], etc.) for these groups?
  • How do young adults with a marked functional disability envisage their future life spheres?
  • How do key adults in the lives of these young people view the young people’s life opportunities?
  • What gender patterns can be identified with regards to these questions within and across the two groups?

Project PAL aims to will throw light on transitions by conducting case studies of 30 young people in the age group of 18-30 years from the two groups in focus. In addition, the project will map the current demographics, including traditional identity parameters like gender, ethnicity, language backgrounds, etc. of these two groups in the school landscape of the nation-state of Sweden.

Sub-projects

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In order to create a nuanced understanding of the pathways of participation and inclusion for children and young people and their transitions to adulthood, project PAL consists of three sub-projects:

Sub-project 1: Mapping, in collaboration with SCB, Statistics Sweden, the current school location of two groups of diagnosed children in the nation-state of Sweden.

Sub-project 2: In-depth, longitudinal and ethnographically framed case-studies of two groups of diagnosed young people in the nation-state of Sweden by (i) tracking each individuals’ daily life routines systematically across three years in real-time, (ii) mapping life trajectories through existing documents from schools, rehabilitation, the employment office, etc. for each individual, and (iii) interviewing each individual’s and key people in their environments;

Sub-project 3: Conducting a systematic meta-study of existing international and Swedish research with the aim of identifying successful criteria for transition into adulthood in the 21st century.

Members of the research project

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Project PAL is made up of experts in different dimensions related to the foci of the project and come from four universities in Sweden. Its leaders, research and administrative members include:

Dr. Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta, Professor, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University (Project leader, PAL, and Head of Sub-project 2)

Dr. Eva Hjörne, Professor, Department of Education and Special Education, Gothenburg University

Dr. Johan Malmqvist, Associate professor, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University (Head of Sub-project 1)

Dr. Giulia Messina Dahlberg, Senior Lecturer, School of Health and Education, University of Skövde (Head of Sub-project 3)

Dr. Ingela Holmström, Senior Lecturer, Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University

Dr. Shruti Taneja Johansson, Senior lecturer, Department of Education and Special Education, Gothenburg University

Ms. Pia Åman, PAL coordinator, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University

Mr. Michael Karlsson, PAL research assistant, School of Education and

Communication, Jönköping University

Ms. Anja Appelqvist, PAL economist, School of Education and Communication, Jönköping University

Content updated 2017-02-24






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