Inclusive Education Initiative Newsletter #14

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Transforming Education for Children with Disabilities
September 2021 | Issue #14

Dear Members,

We hope you are all doing well! The Inclusive Education Initiative team continues to stay busy working on many resources to help drive the disability-inclusive education agenda forward. We are so grateful to the now 1900+ members of our Community of Practice for joining us and are sharing resources, joining us in discussion, and doing their part to ensure all children with disabilities have access to education.

In continuing to make our IEI website your go-to website on various aspects of disability-inclusive education, we welcome your feedback. As we work to increase the amount of content on our repository, we kindly ask that you continue sending us documents so that others can learn from your work. Please reach out to us if you have a blog post or anything else you would like featured on the website—we are happy to feature your work on disability-inclusive education.  You can email us at or join our LinkedIn Group and post questions directly there.
Again, thank you for being with us. We promise to continue building this community of practice and knowledge hub and look forward to our continued collaboration in achieving the goal of ensuring all children have access to quality inclusive education.

With best wishes,
The Inclusive Education Initiative Team

Launch of HEARING Screening: Considerations for Implementation
Wednesday, 15 September, 2021
Two sessions:
2-3:30 am EDT/ 8-9:30 CEST- Registration
11-12:30 EDT/ 5-6:30 CEST- Registration
Tuesday, July 27th from 9:00-10:00 am EST, the first ever World Report on Hearing was launched as a technical guide outlining the ongoing shifts in the global epidemiology of hearing loss, capturing available solutions and current challenges for ear and hearing care and also establishing priorities to be addressed. It highlights the link between addressing hearing loss and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 
The rationale for hearing screening across the life course is well outlined in the report. The report shows that increasing hearing screening and early intervention coverage during the next 10 years requires an additional annual per capita investment of US$1.33. The resulting health gain during the 10-year period would avert nearly 130 million disability adjusted life years, benefit 1.4 billion people and yield a return of nearly US$16 for each 1 dollar invested. The World Report on Hearing recommends that WHO Member States take urgent and evidence-based policy action to prevent, identify and rehabilitate hearing loss. 
To render technical support to the Member States in implementing the recommendation of the world report into, WHO has developed the HEARING Screening: Considerations for Implementation. This handbook provides technical guidance required for establishing evidence-based programmes for hearing screening facilitating early identification and interventions to address hearing loss and related ear diseases in target groups
GPE Global Education Summit Side Event
What opportunities lie ahead to strengthen disability-inclusive education?
The World Bank

The World Bank’s Inclusive Education Initiative & Disability Inclusive Education in Africa Program seeks to address the complex task of operationalizing inclusive education in low-income country contexts. The Trust Fund employs a unique approach to mainstreaming: funding small grants to facilitate catalytic change in larger World Bank Investment Financing Projects, research, innovation, and global knowledge products to inform and operationalize the inclusion of children with disabilities in education projects. The side session brings together stakeholders to critically engage in a discussion on how education systems can be supported to ensure no one is left behind.

GPE Global Education Summit Side Event
Gender-Responsive and Disability-Inclusive Education for All
Leonard Cheshire, Sightsavers, GPE, the World Bank’s IEI, GCE-US; UN Girls’ Education Initiative

Leonard Cheshire, Sightsavers, GPE, the World Bank’s IEI, GCE-US and the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) hosted a Global Education Summit side event, “Gender-responsive and disability-inclusive quality education for all”. The purpose of the event was to showcase examples of education models and finance mechanisms that are supporting girls with disabilities in particular to realise quality education. The speakers (see full list below) and presentations highlighted some of the barriers and opportunities to education for girls with disabilities, outlining critical next steps to ensure their inclusion in education planning. We also heard how gender and disability inclusion can be integrated into existing and new education financing mechanisms. The event closed with recommendations for key stakeholders to take forward at the Global Education Summit.

GPE Global Education Summit Side Event
A Roadmap to Inclusive Early Childhood Care and Education
African Early Childhood Network; Catholic Relief Services (CRS); Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN); Global Campaign for Education-US (GCE-US); International Parliamentary Network for Education; Light for the World; Save the Children; UNICEF; World Vision

This event highlights the importance of inclusive early learning for marginalized children, particularly those with disabilities. Join us for lessons learned in policy, financing, and implementation, including tools and examples from a variety of contexts that include adaptations made during COVID. A panel discussion and interactive activities allows participants to share experience and identify ways that promising practices can be replicated in different resource settings.

GPE Global Education Summit Side Event
From commitments to action: Financing for equity and disability inclusion in education
Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report; UNESCO; The World Bank-Education; International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC); International Disability Alliance (IDA); The Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network; Global Campaign for Education (GCE-US) / Inclusive Education and Early Childhood Community of Practice

Persons with disabilities are most at risk of exclusion and marginalisation within society and education. In 2020, the situation has deteriorated even further resulting in more than an estimated 32 million children with disabilities being out of school. Various reports released recently point to weaknesses in government policy, planning and budgeting. This session aims at exploring a number of strategies to ensure that the vision outlined in Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), as well as Sustainable Development Goal 4, is attained such as: 1) Highlighting the findings of the GEM 2020 Report on how countries develop policy, sector plans and budgets for inclusive education and gaps in data systems – presented by UNESCO GEM Team; 2) Challenges and limitations encountered by INGOs in the implementation of donor funded development projects that could only be addressed through large scale systemic reform on the part of governments – presentation by IDDC IETG and GLAD Network; 3) Country case study presentations by ministerial representatives that demonstrate successful inclusive budget, policy and sector planning – Ethiopia, Ghana, Latin American country; 4) Overview of impact of the pandemic on education budgets and how this could be mitigated through more cost-effective and inclusive government budgeting and targeted development aid – presentation by World Bank- Education; 5) Short and long-term impact of lack of educational support on quality of life and economic independence of individuals with disability.

The event focuses on the issues that affect the provision of inclusive education with a view to identify positive steps that governments and other stakeholders can take to really ensure that no child is left behind. The event includes the following:

  • Presentations by learners from different countries sharing their experiences of education- including during the current pandemic;
  • A panel discussion including high-level decision-makers, experts and civil society representatives who respond to learners’ testimonials and outline clear recommendations for action.
This policy brief is part of the Global Programme Supporting Disability Inclusive COVID-19 Response and Recovery at National Level, funded by the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The review of needs assessments was undertaken jointly by UNESCO IITE and UNESCO IIEP as part of the Global Programme. The related research conducted in Colombia, Bangladesh, Mauritius and Rwanda revealed the pressing issues pertaining to the role of ODL for learners with disabilities during and beyond the pandemic. It highlighted existing and emerging learning opportunities and problems, such as technology competence development for teachers working with students with disabilities.
Early childhood education has the potential to expand opportunities for disadvantaged children, provided that programmes use inclusion as a guiding principle. While the international community has committed to inclusive education, countries vary in their efforts to extend this goal to early childhood. Universal access is the basis of inclusion, and countries must address barriers related to socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, language, disability and remoteness. Cooperation among multiple actors to identify special needs early and provide integrated services is needed, as are inclusive curricula that support children’s socio-emotional development and identity formation. Finally, educators must be given the knowledge, training, and support to implement inclusive practices and work with families from all backgrounds. July 2021
The Summit itself represents a critical moment. Members of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) will be meeting to discuss funding priorities for the GPE in 2021-2025. The GPE is the largest global fund dedicated to transforming education in lower-income countries. And it’s so essential that access to good quality education for children with disabilities is central to funding commitments.

In recent years, there has been a paradigm shift in the way we perceive disability. Once regarded as a medical problem that requires fixing, disability is now largely viewed through a social construct lens, in which we acknowledge that society creates barriers—environmental, attitudinal and institutional—that limit opportunities for certain individuals to participate in society on an equal basis as others. 

Education is no stranger to these barriers; children and youth with disabilities face numerous obstacles to accessing education. A first step toward addressing these barriers is to collect data on learners with disabilities to design, monitor and evaluate inclusive education programs. 

USAID is partnering with Purdue University, the University of Massachusetts at Boston and Inclusive Development Partners through the  Long-term Assistance and Services for Research (LASER) Partners for University-Led Solutions Engine (PULSE) mechanism to evaluate three USAID inclusive education activities in Cambodia, Malawi, and Nepal.  

The Multi-Country Study on Inclusive Education (MCSIE) is led by Inclusive Development Partners (IDP)  in partnership with the Cambodia Disabled People’s Organization, Invest in Knowledge in Malawi and Kathmandu University in Nepal. The study spans August 2019 through February 2023.  

Deaf and hard of hearing people are sidelined by lack of access to language at an early age, information, resources, education and employment. These forms of marginalization result in high risk for language deprivation, delay in development of communication and cognitive skills, and mental health problems. Yet, like others with disabilities, with appropriate access to resources and inclusive practice, Deaf and hard of hearing people can and do effectively work, learn and fully participate to influence change. 

Study of Incidence of Disability Among Early Grade Learners in Senegal

Over the last two decades, Senegal has made notable progress toward increasing the number of children who enroll in and complete primary school. Now, the government is pursuing nationwide reform to ensure the quality of classroom instruction is high and that it inspires families and communities to become more involved in helping children learn. USAID is supporting the Senegalese government’s efforts to boost early grade reading through Lecture Pour Tous, which began at the end of October 2016 and runs through July 10, 2021, aiming to improve reading levels for students in Grades 1, 2, and 3 through effective, sustainable, and scalable reforms
Taonere Banda preparing ahead of the Paralympics at her training ground in Zomba, Malawi on August 2, 2021. | © Sightsavers / Malumbo Simwaka
Why this Paralympic Athlete is Calling for Inclusive Girls’ Education in Malawi
August 27th, 2021
Excluded from school and sports in Malawi due to stigma for her visual impairment, Taonere Banda almost didn’t become an elite runner. “People should stop viewing people with disabilities as if they cannot do anything,” Banda told Global Citizen. Now 25 years old, she is racing middle distance and representing Malawi at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, where she hopes to continue to make her home country proud. “I want to be a champion and an example for other girls with disabilities,” Banda said.
Inclusive Education is at Risk in Brazil: Repeal New Segregated Education Policy for People with Disabilities
August 26th, 2021
On August 17, Brazilian Minister of Education Milton Ribeiro made harmful remarks about children with disabilities, saying they “disturbed” other students and that some are “impossible to live with.” Later, he apologized to “those who were offended” but insisted the government does not want what he called “inclusivism.” Unfortunately, Ribeiro’s remarks are consistent with other recent moves in Brazil to undermine quality inclusive education for all children, regardless of their disability.
Sightsavers Pushes for Inclusive Education in Mali
August 17th, 2021
About 2.2 million people in Mali live with a disability. In lower-income countries like Mali, a main struggle the disabled community faces is education. Roughly 19 million children with disabilities do not attend school. Those that do receive the opportunity to attend school still face many obstacles. Current educational systems do not provide those with disabilities the proper resources to ensure that they don’t get left behind. The continuous struggle for equal education for children with disabilities, especially visual disabilities, needs to be addressed.
What Does Inclusive Education Really Mean?
August 20th, 2021
This YouTube clip answers, “What does inclusive education really mean?” “Why it is so hard to change?” “Why can’t children with disabilities ride the same bus as children without disabilities?”
What South Africa needs to do to improve education for disabled children
July 29th, 2021
In many countries, including South Africa, there is stark economic inequality between adults with disabilities and those without. One key to reducing these disparities is improving access to education for children with disabilities or difficulties.

How to strengthen disability-inclusion in education
July 27th, 2021
The World Bank is committed to ensuring that all its Investment Project Financing projects in education will be disability-inclusive by 2025.  It is supporting its client countries in building more disability-inclusive education systems. As part of this commitment, a Guidance Note has been developed in an effort to support World Bank education teams around the world. It is intended to be used along with Inclusive Education Resource Guide

Inclusion is key to building education ‘back better’ but policy gaps remain
July 12th, 2021
Extensive calls to ‘build back better’ are being made in response to the continued impacts and restrictions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. For education, with close to half the world’s students still affected by partial or full school closures, these new challenges compound a long-standing global learning crisis where more than half of children and adolescents are unable to reach minimum proficiency levels in foundation subjects. 
How can we best support the education of children with disabilities in low and middle income countries?
July 6th, 2021
Education of children with disabilities General Comment No. 4 on Article 24 issued in 2016 by the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities defined inclusion as, “a process of systemic reform embodying changes and modifications in content, teaching methods, approaches, structures and strategies in education to overcome barriers with a vision serving to provide all students of the relevant age range with an equitable and participatory learning experience and environment that best corresponds to their requirements and preferences” (Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2016, p. 4). While there is a lot of debate on what is inclusive education, in this forum individuals from different countries, drew on their experiences, to reflect on how best to support the education of children with disabilities in mainstream classrooms. Across the different contributions, there were there were four overarching themes, which are discussed here.
Disability and Learning in Ethiopia: What Has Changed as a Result of the COVID-19 Pandemic?
May 12th, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges for the provision of education for children around the world. Learning during the prolonged school closures has been particularly challenging for children with disabilities. Findings from preliminary analysis of data collected from 100 school-based personnel and 57 parents of children with disabilities in various regions in Ethiopia during the pandemic are outlined in this blog post.
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