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BRIEF April 12, 2019

Inclusive Education Initiative: Transforming Education for Children with Disabilities


A schoolgirl in a wheelchair using a digital tablet at school. 

Photo: wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

The Inclusive Education Initiative (IEI) is a multi-donor trust fund overseen by the World Bank. Launched in 2019 with support from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the U.K. government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the initiative invests in catalytic technical expertise and knowledge resources that support countries in making education progressively inclusive for children across the spectrum of disabilities.

The Challenge

They often face a multitude of barriers in attending, participating in, and ultimately benefitting from school.

  • Children with disabilities are less likely to stay in school than their non-disabled peers.
  • Approximately 85% of primary school-age children with disabilities who are not in school have never attended school.
  • When children with disabilities attend school, an inaccessible learning environment and a lack of support for learning hinders their education.
  • Learning gaps have widened between children with disabilities and their non-disabled peers in general, and they are the least likely to complete primary school.

The Inclusive Education Initiative (IEI)

IEI will do this by working both at the global and country levels to help stakeholders and governments mobilize financing and develop programs that ensure inclusive education.

  • At the global level, IEI will work to coordinate inclusive education planning and develop public goods that countries can use to improve access and quality of education for children with disabilities.
  • At the country level, IEI will ensure that efforts by development partners are coordinated, provide financial resources and technical assistance for development and implementation of disability-inclusive education programs, and support disaggregated data collection related to disability.

The IEI recognizes the intersectionality of disability with other disadvantages, such as poverty, and the commitment is to address the challenge of exclusion of children with disabilities in government-run education systems.

This World Bank trust fund is supported by Norad, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the U.K. government’s Department for International Development (DFID). IEI is also supported by multilateral and bilateral organizations, governments, civil society groups and others working to make education inclusive for all children.

Through this joint effort, IEI aims to make it possible for governments and their partners in education to provide inclusive education for all children, wherever they are and whatever their challenges.

The Global Commitment

Education stakeholders, among them governments and policymakers, multilateral and bilateral institutions, development groups, civil society organizations and disabled people’s organizations, are committed to transforming education systems so they benefit all children, including children with disabilities. IEI will partner with education stakeholders to ensure that this global commitment is met.


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