Home Institution

Tufts University

Publication Date

Fall 2016

Program Name

Chile: Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment


Research Question: How effective are special education organizations and programs in helping students with intellectual disabilities with job pursuits, education, and independence?

Objectives: The general objective of this study is to describe the support that students with intellectual disabilities receive from the special education system and how this support promotes autonomy. The specific objectives are to investigate the teachers’ roles, discover the level of autonomy students have, and identify how the education system supports labor insertion.

Antecedents: Historically, job placement has been difficult for people with disabilities. Many people are misinformed regarding their true abilities. There also exists an ignorance of the laws and decrees that explain their rights and duties. For many reasons, many people with intellectual disabilities return home during adulthood due to the difficulty they experience while pursuing a job. The special education system should be made aware of these issues in order to improve the way in which it prepares students for labor insertion and an independent life.

Methodology: Twelve teachers and specialists in special education centers, and five adolescent students attending a job-training center were interviewed. In addition, seven parents were surveyed on the topic and all participants were located in Santiago, Viña del Mar and San Antonio. Along with surveys and semi-structured and unstructured interviews, observations also took place within special education centers to achieve a greater depth of analysis.

Results: Although many people were satisfied with the quality of special education, there is not a sufficient amount of special education centers available for students with intellectual disabilities. Some integrated schools do not provide the necessary attention to all students. Although all of the interviewed students and teachers expressed their satisfaction with the support students receive terms of autonomy, 72% of parents felt that there was “almost no support” or “little support”, and 57% of parents also said that there would be no jobs available when their children are old enough to pursue one. While the government has created laws, there still exists a general lack of awareness about the duties and rights of people with intellectual disabilities.

Conclusions: The majority of people expressed that though the quality of support that students with intellectual disabilities receive is satisfactory, often there is not sufficient support. Although the sample of this study was small, some useful discoveries were made regarding the quantity, quality, and effectiveness of schools that provide special education, which could be used to better their functions and centers of focus.


Community-Based Research | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Sociology | Latin American Studies | Special Education and Teaching


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