‘Learning for All’ Must Include Children with Disabilities

Americas, Misc., December 7 2017

While the developing world has made strong progress towards universal primary education, education is still largely an unfulfilled dream for millions of children with disabilities. Leroy Philips, a youth leader and radio broadcaster from Guyana, recalls what it was like growing up blind.

Five year old disabled boy studying in wheelchair“When I was six or seven, my uncle used to teach the young folks in the family except me. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t included when he would gather all the young kids to do their spelling, reading, tables and other math related exercises,” Philips says. “Being blind, I was denied an opportunity to participate equally in education lessons at home or at school.”

Philips isn’t alone in his experience. New research from the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) finds that the gap between children with and without disabilities has increased dramatically over time. The analysis is based on census data for 19 countries, and thereby tends to capture children with severe disabilities. The data shows that educational attainment and literacy have increased for children with disabilities, but at a much slower pace than for children without disabilities. The study finds, for example, that less than half of children with disabilities complete their primary education and as many as three in ten never enroll in school.

“More than gender or socio-economic status, disability has an outsize impact on a child’s opportunities to learn,” said Quentin Wodon, World Bank lead economist and co-author of the study. “Getting children with disabilities and other disadvantages into school and learning demands urgent action.”

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