With fewer than 10 percent of children with disabilities in Africa attending school, the World Bank and USAID have created a new $3 million Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program Trust Fund to increase access for these children to primary school and to design and implement inclusive education programs across the region.
According to the 2011 World Report on Disability, globally there are between 93 and 150 million children with disabilities under the age of 14. In Africa, 6.4 percent of the children in this age range have moderate to severe disabilities. The true prevalence of disability, however, is uncertain – and is likely to be much higher – in light of poor data collection, especially in conflict-affected settings. Disability in Africa is largely attributable to war and armed conflict, poverty, and inadequate access to health and rehabilitation services.
Research conducted in 13 countries – including Chad, Burundi, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zambia – suggests that the exclusion of children with disabilities from education has an adverse economic impact at the family, community and country level. Higher levels of education are linked to higher wages and lower rates of unemployment. And when children with disabilities are unable to go to school, there is also an added economic burden on the household, including possible lost wages of a caregiver who stays at home – who in most cases is a woman.
The Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program Trust Fund will benefit students with disabilities in Africa by financing World Bank-executed activities that leverage USAID programs, Bank-financed projects, and analytical work over a three-year period. The expected outcomes are: (a) increased use by African governments and development practitioners of evidence-based programmatic and policy recommendations and tools to design and implement inclusive education interventions; and (b) increased access and enrollment of girls and boys with disabilities in targeted African countries. Specifically, the Trust Fund will promote more strategic use of resources for disability inclusion, and provide more flexible support for emerging needs and priorities in project preparation.