LONDON, July 26, 2018 — On the occasion of this week’s Global Disability Summit, and recognizing that children with disabilities continue to be among the most marginalized and excluded from education opportunities, a new Inclusive Education Initiative (IEI) was announced today by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), and the World Bank.
U.K. Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, said, “All children deserve a quality education, and yet far too many children with disabilities are left behind. It is vital that globally we step up our efforts to enable children with disabilities to fulfil their true potential. That is why I am pleased to back this initiative, which will help provide essential expertise and support.”
Globally, between 93 and 150 million children under the age of 14 have disabilities, according to the 2011 World Report on Disability. The Education Commission Report (2016), estimates that there are close to 65 million primary and secondary school age children with disabilities, and that at least half of them are out of school.
The recent Towards Inclusive Education: The Impact of Disability on School Attendance in Developing Countries report, which explores the impact of disability on school attendance in 15 countries, highlighted school access to be a significant challenge for most children with disability, and disability to be a critical factor which affects school attendance.
Findings from census data from 19 countries identified that gaps in literacy and school completion have increased over time for children with disabilities as compared to their non-disabled peers.
These grim statistics raise the stakes and point to the urgent need for targeted investment to scale up what works, build capacity and coalitions at the country level, and maintain continuous monitoring and impact evaluation within ongoing projects.
Hosted by the World Bank, the IEI will collaborate and partner with stakeholders such as UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), civil society, and academia. The initiative will support countries to strengthen disability-inclusive education planning, implementation, and monitoring of learning outcomes for children with disabilities by supporting and encouraging partnerships, promoting data collection, investing in teachers, and aggregating evidence of practice and solutions at scale.
“In many low- and middle-income countries, regulation and policies on disability and inclusion in the education system remain aspirational. School participation and learning outcomes for disabled children and adolescents are lagging. We support the Inclusive Education Initiative with an aim to catalyse real change in the lives and prospects of children and youth with disabilities,” said Norway’s Minister for International Development Nikolai Astrup.
“When children with disabilities are left behind they may never reach their full potential,” said Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, World Bank. “We are happy to host the Inclusive Education Initiative, so we can make inclusion the norm and provide every child with the same opportunity to go to school, learn, and succeed.”
For more information on the World Bank Group’s commitment on disability inclusion, please see: World Bank Group Announces New Commitments on Disability Inclusion