Global education report: children with disabilities are likely to face the most severe discrimination and exclusion
20 February 2014
The challenges facing children with disabilities in accessing quality education were a striking finding of this year’s UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report (GMR).
Launched at the end of January, the comprehensive and highly regarded GMR has, for the first time, highlighted issues affecting children with disabilities. The report recognised the challenges that children with disabilities face, both with being admitted to school in the first place, and, for those admitted, with getting the support they need in school.
It’s clear that if children with disabilities are ignored we will not succeed in getting the 57 million children without an education into school and learning - and the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education will not be reached.
Leonard Cheshire Disability regularly encounters these challenges – and the importance of supporting teachers in addressing them – in our education work, which has so far helped over 10,000 disabled children in Africa and Asia to receive a quality education.
One teacher who can testify to this is Kazi Mahamuda Parvin, an assistant teacher at Shakamachha Bazar Government Primary School in Bangladesh. Before she went through Leonard Cheshire's inclusive education training, she ‘had a very limited idea about how to teach disabled children. Like many other teachers, I used to think that the presence of children with disabilities might hamper the overall learning environment in the class.’
However, with the right support her perceptions changed, and now Parvin takes care of 16 children with disabilities in her school – 14 of whom were involved in the annual school sports competition.
In Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, Leonard Cheshire Disability has helped train over 3,000 teachers like Parvin on including children with disabilities in their classes. However, it is clear that this type of work needs to be scaled up if we are to make the recommendations of the report a reality for all children with disabilities without primary education:
- The right teachers must be selected to reflect the diversity of the children they will teach.
- Teachers must be trained to support the weakest learners.
- The best teachers should be assigned to teach where the most challenges exist.
- Governments must provide teachers with incentives to encourage them to ensure all children are learning.
Leonard Cheshire Disability’s work with Parvin is one example of the impact that can be made in changing attitudes and making disabled children’s right to education a reality.
Our inclusive education projects are proof of the GMR’s recommendations in action: we can address the lack of adequately trained teachers, and we can make a decent primary school education a reality for all children.