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BRIEF November 30, 2018

Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program


Junior Onango in class. Along with other pupils with disabilities. Junior is supported in class by staff trained in disability awareness. The children are provided with learning materials and toys - adding variety and enjoyment to the day in Kenya. Photo credit: Leonard Cheshire Disability/ Hamish Roberts

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Globally, there are between 93 and 150 million children with disabilities under the age of 14, according to the 2011 World Report on Disability. In Africa, an estimated 6.4% of children in this age range have moderate or severe disabilities; and less than 10% of all children with disabilities under the age of 14 are attending school.

Today, an estimated 65 million primary and secondary school-age children have disabilities – close to half of them are out of school.  

Exclusion of children with disabilities from education has an adverse economic impact at the family, community, and country level. The schooling deficit experienced by children with disabilities can become the most challenging impediment to earning an income and long-run financial health as adults.  Recent studies show a positive wage return on education for children with disabilities, while the costs of exclusion of persons with disabilities from the labor market range from 3% to 7% of a country’s GDP.

In 2017, the World Bank and USAID established the Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program, a $3 million trust fund to increase access for children to primary school and to design and implement inclusive education programs across Africa.

The Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program aims to benefit students with disabilities in Africa by financing World Bank-executed activities that leverage USAID programs, World Bank projects, and analytical work.

The expected outcomes include:

  • Increased use of evidence-based programmatic and policy recommendations as well as tools to design and implement inclusive education interventions by African governments and development practitioners
  • Increased access and enrollment of girls and boys with disabilities in targeted African countries. Specifically, the program promotes strategic use of resources for disability inclusion and provides flexible support for emerging needs and priorities in project preparation.

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Children with disabilities worldwide face cultural, economic and social barriers from within and outside the education system that directly or indirectly impact their ability to get a high-quality education, such as:

1.     Supply-side barriers: Physical accessibility of school buildings, classrooms and toilets as well as their neighborhoods; transportation means to get to school; inaccessible learning materials, inflexible curricula, teaching methods and examinations; teacher and educator knowledge on inclusive teaching practices; discrimination on the basis of disability.

2.     Demand-side barriers: Stigma and attitudinal barriers; internalized parental and family misconceptions about children’s ability to learn; family resources and caregiving dynamics; financial supports; welfare provisions and eligibility criteria.

Addressing the myriad of individual, community, and system-level barriers to disability-inclusive education requires a comprehensive ecosystem approach towards the design and implementation of targets the inclusive education.

The Disability-inclusive Education in Africa Program provides advisory and analytical support across three pillars:

  • Pillar 1: Increasing the evidence base on educational participation of children with disabilities – to strengthen the evidence base on the economic, social, and system-level structures that impact inclusion for children with disabilities, and the return-on-investment on different types of policy and programmatic interventions to support inclusive education in Africa.
  • Pillar 2: Supporting demonstrative activities – to expand the evidence base on “what works” to promote the social inclusion of children with disabilities by supporting small grants to World Bank teams working across Africa. Successful grantees will help promote the design and implementation of policies and operations by governments to work toward the educational participation of children with disabilities in the region.
  • Pillar 3: Disseminating knowledge curated from funded analytical work through policy and knowledge briefs, recommendations for programmatic and policy change, fact sheets, blogs, webinars, educational videos, and social media platforms.

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Multiple studies are underway, including:

  • A quantitative study using data from over 20 countries in the Africa region focusing on
    • (i) measuring gaps in educational outcomes and the marginal impacts of various types of disabilities on these outcomes;
    • (ii) developing the economic rationale for investing in children with disabilities; and
    • (iii) documenting successful interventions with a series of analytical reports and knowledge products.
  • Mixed-methods diagnostics in four countries – Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, and Malawi – to generate new data and knowledge on the educational system’s capacity to facilitate the participation and attainment of children with disabilities. The analytics will focus on policy climate and resource allocation, inclusive educational environments, and social services to support educational participation.

In-country interventions

The program has provided almost $1.5 million in grants for activities in seven countries across the Africa region: Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Senegal, The Gambia and Zambia.

  • Ethiopia: This activity is evaluating the operation of Inclusive Education Resource Centers (IERCs) in facilitating inclusion in mainstream schools. This will be achieved through a diagnostic of the existing IERCs pilots. The study aims to identify cost-effective, scalable, and sustainable models for roll-out of this initiative under the Ethiopia General Education Quality Improvement Program for Equity (GEQIP-E) supported by the International Development Association (IDA), the UK Department for International Development (DFID), Finland, Norway and the UNICEF. Based on the findings of the study and in line with the targets of the Ethiopia Education Sector Development Program V which serves as the framework for educational development in the country, the implementation plan will developed to support the establishment of about 700 IERCs with a view to ensure inclusive quality instruction and learning environment and to provide appropriate support to children with disabilities in mainstream schools. Award amount: $100,000.
  • The Gambia: The activity builds on the ongoing work of the Special Education Unit in The Gambia to ensure children with disabilities are attending schools, staying in schools, and are supported in their learning process. The activity aspires to create tools to improve government capacity to adequately collect data; and better the quality of learning for children with disabilities by training classroom teachers, itinerant teachers, and school directors on inclusive education. It also aims to launch a community engagement campaign. The data and results from the activity will be further used to inform the development of a proposed inclusive education fund, which will provide demand-based assistive devices to children with disabilities in public schools. Award Amount: $197,000.
  • Ghana: This activity supports systematic strengthening, educational, and social inclusion activities at the primary-school level with two key objectives: i) establishing a framework to transform existing special schools and regional assessment centers into inclusive education resource centers while supporting a pilot training of staff in their new capacities, and ii) improving community sensitization through the strengthening of civil society networks. Award amount: $250,000.
  • Lesotho: The overall goal of this activity is to increase the government’s and stakeholders’ knowledge toward inclusive education in primary schooling for children with disabilities in Lesotho. This will be achieved by developing an integrated training module on inclusive education, which includes basic screening and teaching strategies; preparing a policy note on school-age children with disabilities; and disseminating information on supported activities to raise national awareness about the need to support children with disabilities. The outputs of this project will further strengthen the quality of activities under the Lesotho Education Quality for Equality Project (LEQEP). Award Amount: $250,000.
  • Senegal: The overall aim of the activity is to improve data on children with disabilities to inform evidence-based decision making and improve identification of children with disabilities at the community and school level. This will be done by revising and implementing an  Education Sector Policy Framework survey, which will focus on collecting data on factors governing social and economic conditions of children with disabilities. Additionally, the activity will focus on the development of a basic screening tool for the identification of children with disabilities at the school and community levels, as well as the development of teacher training modules on inclusive education. Award Amount: $190,000.
  • Zambia: The principal objective of the activity is to provide technical support to the country’s Ministry of General Education (MOGE) on the provision of education for children with disabilities under the 7th National Developmental Plan. The activity supports enhancing teachers’ pedagogical skills and knowledge to address the learning needs of children with disabilities. Interlinked activities around teacher training and support will include a review of pre-service and in-service teachers’ education curricula to identify gaps to strengthen inclusive education and prepare about 50 resource persons on inclusive education pedagogy. The activity will also support an audit on the availability and use of inclusive teaching-learning materials in schools, and give further recommendations to the MOGE based on the findings. Moreover, the project will support capacity building of education managers to support school leadership on inclusive education planning, management, monitoring and evaluation, and community awareness generation. Award Amount: $250,000.

Results and impacts will be updated as available.

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1.    COSP11 Side Session – Equity and Inclusion in Education for Children with Disabilities

The program supported a side event on Equity and Inclusion in Education at the 11th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (COSP11). The session focused on discussion around supporting effective solutions at global and country level to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities and increase education participation, achievement and learning. In addition to the World Bank and USAID, co-sponsors included UNICEF, DFID, and Leonard Cheshire. The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection of the Republic of Ghana was a featured speaker.

2.     Technical Learning Series on Inclusive Education in Africa

The Disability Inclusive Education in Africa technical learning series, organized by the World Bank in partnership with UNICEF and USAID, brought together development partners and Ministry of Education representatives from 12 countries across the Africa Region including Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Uganda, and Zambia. The series consisted of three webinars followed by a 3-day, in-person workshop in Nairobi, Kenya from October 23-25, 2018. The technical learning series helped increase knowledge of effective disability inclusive education policy, planning and practice among donors, government and civil society in Africa in a manner that promotes cross-regional sharing and coalition and capacity building.

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