Today, UNESCO launched the 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, specifically addressing inclusion in education. In line with the recommendations of this Report, HI calls on governments and development actors to concentrate increased efforts on those excluded because of their identity, background or ability. The Report highlights persistent inequalities The GEM Report, published annually by […]
Today, UNESCO launched the 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, specifically addressing inclusion in education. In line with the recommendations of this Report, HI calls on governments and development actors to concentrate increased efforts on those excluded because of their identity, background or ability.
The Report highlights persistent inequalities
The GEM Report, published annually by UNESCO, assesses progress towards education targets in the SDG agenda. This year’s report, with its evidence and recommendations, sheds light on persistent inequalities in education.
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 sets the commitment to ensure an inclusive and quality education for every learner, by 2030. Yet almost a quarter of a billion children are still out of school. Among them, 50% of children with disabilities are excluded from education, in low and middle income countries.
Not only do children with disabilities have less opportunity/chances to be enrolled in school, but they are also affected by poor levels of attendance, progression and learning. As such, children with disabilities often do not have the opportunity to learn even the basics, and few are able to make the transition to higher levels of education and training. HI teams witness this injustice in the 27 countries where we currently have inclusive education projects, both in humanitarian and in development settings.
In 25 countries with relevant data, the adult literacy rate for those with any kind of disability is lower than for other adults (GEM Report, 2020).
Accelerate the transformation towards inclusion
This GEM Report calls on all education actors to widen their understanding of inclusive education to include all learners. For HI, inclusive education is a transformational process aiming to increase participation and reduce exclusion, by creating learning environments that enable all to learn and fulfil their potential.
Negative perceptions are often associated with children with disabilities, including the misbelief that they cannot learn, cannot be in an environment with other children with different abilities, or that they are too vulnerable to go to school. Education that responds to the needs of children with disabilities plays a positive role in helping address stigma and discrimination related to disability, with an impact that goes beyond the individual and embraces families, communities, and the society at large.
In Uganda, 84% of children with disabilities versus 53% of those without experienced violence by peers or staff. (GEM Report, 2020).
Moving towards inclusion in education is a particularly poignant message for those now rebuilding their school systems after the arrival of Covid-19. In the current context where 90% of children and young people have experienced disruption to their education, learners with disabilities are seeing their right to education particularly affected. Not only distance learning is often inaccessible for children with disabilities, but they have also been cut off from other important services (health, nutrition, psychosocial support, protection…) which are available through schools. Measures should be taken now to ensure that children with disabilities are not missing out opportunities for distance learning and that they are effectively included and supported to return when schools re-open.
Recommendations for better policies and impactful actions
Although the right to inclusive education encompasses all learners, many governments are yet to base their laws, policies and practices on this principle.
Laws in 25% of countries provide for education in separate settings, with shares exceeding 40% in Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean. (GEM Report, 2020)
For HI, it is essential for education systems to place the child at the centre and ensure that reasonable accommodations are in place to cater for diverse needs, aspirations, and preferences with the aim of ensuring that every child reaches his/her full potential.
HI supports all recommendations presented in the GEM Report and calls particular attention on:
- Delivering jointly across government departments and sectors. Beyond existing barriers in the education system itself, other aspects concur in low level of attendance and of learning outcomes of children with disabilities, like stigma engendering discriminations, household’s poverty, poor or unstable health of the child, and lack of mobility devices significantly. This is why HI calls for a systemic approach, requiring structured and thorough cooperation between different ministerial departments and other stakeholders concerned.
- Allocating general funding to foster an inclusive learning environment for all learners, as well as targeted funding to follow the furthest behind as early as possible. For HI, investing in the education of children with disabilities means promoting their well-being, empowerment, and social integration in addition to reducing stigma, and breaking the poverty cycle. Funding formulas that give greater priority to the most marginalised of children would narrow the inequity gap in access and learning.
- Engaging in meaningful consultation with communities and parents and making space for on-government actors. HI calls for and supports the systematic participation of learners with disabilities, their families and organisations of persons with disabilities in education, from the design to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programming. NGOs and CSOs should be considered as key partners of government and aid actors and are also at the frontline to ensure continuous provision of education, in particular during crisis.