Inclusive Education Initiative Newsletter #7


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Transforming Education for Children with Disabilities
November, 2020 | Issue #7
Dear Members,

We hope you are doing well and finishing out 2020 strong. Without a doubt, this year has thrown challenges our way that we were not planning on but has given us the opportunity to get innovative and envision ways of building back more inclusively.

The IEI has continued to work hard to address the educational, social needs, barriers and issues for children with disabilities during COVID-19. Based on our IEI Issues Paper, “Pivoting to Inclusion: Leveraging Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis for Learners with Disabilities” we have been able to hold country-level discussions with two of our three grantee countries, Ethiopia and Nepal, over the last month. The stakeholder engagement there was strong and we were able to learn from ministry officials, Organizations of Persons with Disabilities, and donor partners, amongst others, what their countries are doing in response to COVID-19.  We can learn from these discussions and consider how we can apply the recommendations from our paper to ensure we  build back stronger and are more inclusive of learners with disabilities.

As we close out 2020, we want to thank all of you for your participation in the IEI Community of Practice. We have some great things planned in the near future that we will make sure to let you know about as soon as they are ready. In the meantime, feel free to let us know about anything disability-inclusive education- related so that we can continue to grow our knowledge base. You can either email us at or join our LinkedIn Group and post questions directly there
With best wishes,
The Inclusive Education Initiative Team
photo of a kid using a wheelchair
Photo: Masaru Goto / World Bank
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 3rd, is a day for championing the rights of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of the challenges individuals face globally. We will keep you updated on the many events celebrating this important day (and week) through our LinkedIn page.  We would also ask that you  let us know about any events your organization is planning, or that you come across, as the day approaches.
The World Bank’s Disability-Inclusive Development team is hosting “Building a More Disability-Inclusive Accessible and Sustainable Post-COVID-19 World” at 12pm EST on World Bank Live. We are planning to have a range of voices from the disability inclusion space, including: BBC presenter, Ade Adepitan; disability rights activist, Judy Heumann; musical guests, Amadou and Mariam; Ghana’s Minister for Gender, Children, and Social Protection, Hon. Cynthia Mamle Morrison;  UN Under Secretary General, Ana Maria Menéndez; Director General of Norad, Bård Vegar Solhjell; the World Bank’s Global Disability Advisor, Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo; and many more.

More details can be found on our event webpage.
Ensuring the Right to Quality Inclusive Education for Persons with Disabilities: From Commitment to Action
The international virtual symposium, co-organized by UNESCO, the Ministry of Education of Portugal and Leonard Cheshire is a unique opportunity to bring together a wide range of stakeholders across the globe to discuss progress, successes achieved and challenges to ensure full participation and access to quality learning opportunities for all learners.

The symposium held from November 25 to 27  is in follow up to the International Forum on inclusion and equity in education - Every learner matters (Cali, Colombia, September 2019). It will focus on the reasons for continued exclusion and inequitable educational provision experienced by children with disabilities. Register on Zoom.
Conference of State Parties to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 13, 2006. The Conference of State Parties (COSP) takes place to consider matters with regard to the implementation of the present convention. There will be many events happening during the week of November 30th through December 4th. We will post the agenda on our LinkedIn page once it is published. 

The IEI is hosting a side event on Friday, December 4th at 10:00 am EST titled “Opportunities to Strengthen Disability-Inclusive Education: Promoting Inclusive Environments for the Full Implementation of the CRPD”. We will have closed captioning and international sign language interpretation. You can register on Zoom.

Excluded from the Excluded Report and Launch Event

Inclusion International has a new report on the current state of inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities in Official Development Assistance, which I thought that you and your colleagues at the World Bank may be interested in.

This report, titled "Excluded from the Excluded", uses OECD DAC CRS data to analyze the state of inclusion for people intellectual disabilities in international development and aid. 

As part of the full report that identifies the degree to which people with disabilities are excluded in international development and humanitarian aid (including from cross-disability projects), we have set out recommendations for organizations working in this field that are aiming to be more inclusive, including guidance on CRPD-compliance in programming work. 

Please find the full report and the two summary resources at the links below:

Read the Full Report
Read the One Page Summary
Read the CRPD Compliance Resource

They will also be hosting a COSP side-event on Wednesday, December 2nd from 8:30am - 9:45am EST to formally launch this report through a moderated discussion with funding agencies, DPOs, and NGOs. If you are interested in joining, please register for the side-event.

Unheard Children- How to Transform the Lives of Deaf Children in Low-Income Countries

Deaf Child Worldwide is launching their new report, “Unheard Children- How to transform the lives of deaf children in low income countries”, looking at the experiences of deaf children in some of the world’s poorest communities. To showcase their report, they’ve organized an online event to bring together NGOs, academics, professionals and policy makers who work with deaf and disabled children in low-income countries. It will take place on Tuesday, December 1 from 8:30-9:45 am EST. Registrations on the event page.

Education Cannot Wait will host a Disability Inclusive Education Forum from 8-9:15 am EST on Friday, December 4th.

This Forum will explore progress made against previous global commitments and initiatives to educate persons with disabilities with a renewed focus on those furthest excluded.


If you know of other events happening during the week that International Day of Persons with Disabilities is happening, please let us know!

The IEI Issues Paper, Pivoting to Inclusion: Leveraging Lessons from the COVID-19 Crisis for Learners with Disabilities” is a resource for governments, implementation agencies, and multilateral agencies that provides guidance as education delivery is rethought and planned in response to COVID-19 and as schools reopen. The Issues Paper focuses on the following objectives:
  • Addressing education, social needs, barriers, and issues for learners with disabilities at a global, regional, and country-level during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Recommending practices for education and social inclusion, and reasonable accommodations utilizing the twin track approach and principles of Universal Design for Learning.
  • Influencing education and social policy, planning, and response for persons with disabilities
Recently, we hosted country level conversations with two of our grantee countries, Ethiopia and Nepal. We held virtual discussions which included donor partners, ministry officials, organizations of persons with disabilities, and other disability inclusive education experts. Our conversation in Nepal was open to anyone who wanted to attend and we want to share with you some of the themes and key messages that came out of it.
As we rebuild post-COVID-19, we have the opportunity to ensure that we are building a truly inclusive education system and moving away from special and segregated settings in Nepal.
  • There is an overall increased need for child-centered/ need-based teaching which is a key element of inclusive education and supports the child’s learning at their level. This approach benefits all children in the school and community, especially children with disabilities and learning difficulties.
  • Investments in teacher training on inclusive remote learning and the use of diagnostic tools to identify the skill levels within the classroom and use remedial teaching skills to bring struggling students up to speed.
  • Smaller class sizes are needed
  • Inclusive WASH facilities are critical
  • EMIS data on enrollment of children with disabilities as well as out of school children has confirmed that a large proportion of children with disabilities remained out of school or unable to participate in learning. We now have the opportunity to bring more children with disabilities to school for the first time ever- especially those in early grades.
  • Access to learning is heavily dependent upon socio-economic factors. Therefore, focusing on strengthening social protection schemes and linking them with income generation and livelihood support for families of children with disabilities is critical.
  • Increased coordination amongst Organizations of Persons with Disabilities to ensure children with disabilities are not left behind.
Pivoting to Inclusion
More information on the IEI  and this issues paper can be found here, including a recording of the global launch, key messages, our PowerPoint presentation, and PSAs from our very own “Jozi” on going back to school safely. Please find a recording of  the Nepal discussion
Leave No Child Behind: Invest in Early Childhood Development

Light for the World, ECDAN, IDDC, and GCE, with the support of Open Society Foundations, have launched their report “Leave No Child Behind: Invest in Early Childhood Development”. Millions of children under the age of five in low- and middle-income countries are at high risk of not achieving their full potential. Multiple factors influence this risk, including health, nutrition, security and safety, responsive caregiving, early learning opportunities, and access to safe water, sanitation and other basic services. High-quality and timely early childhood interventions (ECI) as well as equitable and inclusive early childhood development (ECD) can help mitigate this risk and smooth the pathway for the most marginalised children to access their rights. It provides an overview and new findings on the state of inclusive early childhood development (ECD) in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest proportion of children at risk of not meeting their developmental milestones. It focuses on 4 countries (Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) and analyzes 10 donors in terms of their investments in ECD.

If you missed the launch, please take a look at the video recording, and at this blog.
Sign Language Research, Teaching, and Advocacy in 6 Countries

On International Day of Sign Languages during International Week of the Deaf, Gallaudet University hosted a webinar called “Sign Language Research, Teaching, and Advocacy in 6 Countries” with presentations from The Philippines, Canada, Iran, Argentina, Mexico, and Vietnam.
The Global Education Evidence Advisory Panel, launched in July of 2020, was created to provide succinct, usable, and policy-focused recommendations to support policy makers’ decision-making on education investments in low- and middle-income countries. In their recent report, “Cost-effective Approaches to Improve Global Learning”, they outline some key recommendations based on recent evidence.

Education faces a triple threat:

  1. 90% of children in the world have had their education interrupted due to COVID-19, which means that vulnerable children are missing out not only on education but also on vital services, such as nutrition and health.
  2. Budgets for education are at risk of being slashed due to the financial impacts of COVID-19 and this could lead to a huge funding gap of almost $200 billion per year for low- and middle-income countries.
  3. These COVID-19 impacts are hitting an education system that was already in crisis: even before the pandemic more than half of 10-year-olds in low- and middle- income countries were not learning to read a simple text.

The Save Our Future campaign has issued its White Paper which sets out priority actions to deliver changes in the coming 6-24 months in order to avert an education catastrophe.

In light of the scale of the education crisis, the paper focuses primarily on education from pre-primary to secondary and in particular on those children who are most left behind, including children who live in locations where the vast majority of children are not learning, as well as children from marginalized groups like children with disabilities. It includes children who are out of school and those who are enrolled in school but learning very little.

cover of the report
Humanity and Inclusion has just released a new reportLet’s break silos now! Achieving disability inclusive education in a post-COVID world”.

Recognizing that children with disabilities - in particular in low- and middle- income countries - are still largely excluded from education or they are often educated in separated learning settings, the report calls on developing inclusive-education policies that ensure that the multiple barriers faced by children with disabilities are tackled, in coordination and in partnership with different sectors of intervention (health and rehabilitation, social welfare, nutrition, livelihood).
Photo: IEI
Thanks to Nidhi Singal for sharing this blogpost from Cambridge Network for Disability and Education Research, “Technology as a “lifeline” during Covid-19: protective factors in online learning for young people with learning disabilities” by Dr. Hannah Ware.
Reflections on Support Available for Vulnerable Students in Ethiopia”. In recent years, Ethiopia has rapidly expanded primary school enrolment to achieve near-universal attendance. Yet, learning levels are low and progress in learning goals appears to have stalled in recent years. As a result, even when children finish many years of schooling, they still lack needed skills. The RISE Country Research Team is conducting a five-year research project to examine whether and how a large package of national reforms can improve learning equity in one of the world’s poorest and most diverse countries.
From Seema Neeth, we have this blogpost “‘Education for All’ Under Lockdown: The Path Ahead for Inclusion of Children with Disabilities”, reflecting on the impacts of the current COVID-19 pandemic on children with disabilities.
"Are children with disabilities in school and learning? Evidence from a household survey in rural Punjab, Pakistan”. Invisibility of children with disabilities in data on educational access and learning is a key policy challenge for tracking progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. In this article, findings from a household survey undertaken in rural Punjab, Pakistan are reported. These data help to identify the extent to which children with disabilities are in school and learning the basics in literacy and numeracy. They find that, perhaps contrary to expectations, many of these children in this context are in mainstream (government and private) schools, although their chances of being in school are lower than their peers. Further, they find that overall levels of literacy and numeracy are low, even more so for children with disabilities.
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