FEEDBACK- #KAPTALKS on inclusive education: Key take-aways from inspiring discussions | November 30, 2020
On World Children’s Day, HI Luxembourg co-hosted an online conference to shed light on the educational situation of children with disabilities in low and middle income countries and discuss ways forward to accelerate inclusion. WATCH THE RECORDED VIDEO Handicap International Luxembourg, in partnership the University of Luxembourg and with the support of the UNDP and […]
On World Children’s Day, HI Luxembourg co-hosted an online conference to shed light on the educational situation of children with disabilities in low and middle income countries and discuss ways forward to accelerate inclusion.
Handicap International Luxembourg, in partnership the University of Luxembourg and with the support of the UNDP and the European Commission, organised the online conference “Leaving no one behind in education – a focus on children with disabilities”. This conference was part of the Kapuscinsky Development Lectures’ series.
This lecture was held on 20th November 2020, on the occasion of the World Children’s Day. This KAPTalks highlighted that persistent exclusion of children with disabilities from education requires stakeholders to recognize the benefits of inclusive education and to work across sectors, in order to realise the fundamental right to education, for all.
Dr. Toyin Aderemi-Ige, the Guest Speaker, is an experienced development practitioner and researcher, currently working as UNRWA Disability Advisor seconded by Handicap International. She is the first person in a wheelchair to study and practice pharmacy in Nigeria.
Persisting exclusion and gender gaps
The guest-speaker highlighted that, worldwide, 40% of children with disabilities are out of school at the primary level and 55% at the secondary level. When they go to school, they are often educated in segregated schools, with poor quality of education.
There is a huge gender disparity. 50 percent of males completed to 41.7 percent of females complete primary education. Being a woman or a girl with a disability means double discrimination. Some girls with disabilities may not go to school because their parents fear bullying or sexual violence. Traditionally, in low and middle income countries, girls are assigned to domestic work or unpaid care (including girls with disabilities). Even though families may not send them to school because of the lower value placed on girls, they still use them for domestic work and for unpaid care. Also, some girls do not attend school due to inaccessible sanitation facilities.
Inclusive education benefits all learners
Inclusive education is about an education system that includes all learners, welcomes and supports them to learn irrespective of their identities and abilities. It is a school where all children learn together, without discrimination.
Many people are skeptic about inclusive education. Some parents are afraid that children with disabilities are going to slow down the learning of other children. But this is not true: when children learn together, they actually learn better, because most of the strategies used in inclusive education classrooms are strategies that allow all children to learn better. Furthermore, inclusive education fosters inclusive societies and equity.
“ Designing policies around the idea of inclusion needs to be accompanied by commitment to actually make it happen” Prof. Dr. Catherine Léglu (University of Luxembourg), Panelist
Working across sectors to tackle barriers
Barriers and challenges to education exist at multiple levels: stigma and discrimination in families, communities and in schools; households living in poverty; lack of assistive devices; lack of teachers’ training and preparation; inaccessible transportation.
There is huge need for a multi-sectoral approach to achieve inclusive education of children with disabilities. At the governmental level, this means ensuring that ministerial agencies collaborate and that frameworks are established for monitoring inclusive education of children with disabilities.
“Seeing the SDGs as a blueprint and placing the child’s needs at the center are the pillars to implement a multi-sectoral response” Julia Mc Geown (Humanity & Inclusion/ Handicap International), Panelist
“Conflict-affected children often lack previous schooling experience, or don’t have the mental or academic readiness for learning. Therefore, interventions on education need to be complemented with the provision of health, psychosocial services, nutrition, cash assistance and livelihood-related schemes” Graham Lang (Education Cannot Wait), Panelist
Financing education: a priority
Dr. Aderemi-Ige pointed out that lack of funding is often used as a justification not to advance inclusive education. However, there is also need to shift mind-set, in order for disability-inclusion to become a priority for decision-makers.
Speakers highlighted the influencing power of donors, which are often well-positioned to contribute shaping governmental responses, including in the education sector.
“Donors can influence ministries, by coming together with large-scale commitments. This is what happened at the first ever Global Disability Summit, in 2018, where many commitments on inclusive education where made” Julia Mc Geown (Humanity & Inclusion/ Handicap International), Panelist
Sustained and flexible funding is needed to support civil society organisations that provide educational services, raise public awareness and advocate for the rights of persons with disabilities in low and middle-income countries. Their expertise, representativeness and outreach, in particular of organisations of persons with disabilities, are crucial to implement effective programs.