FEEDBACK – Online Conference hosted by the European Commission on disability-inclusive education | May 3, 2021

Pinda, a young girl with sensory disabilities from Mali, is listening to radio classes on a device provided by HI and with the support of her aunt

On 21 April 2021, Humanity & Inclusion organised an online conference, hosted by the European Commission’s InfoPoint, on “Inclusive Education for All: Breaking Silos for Disability-Inclusive Education”. This event was an opportunity to discuss how to advance disability-inclusive education by improving cooperation across sectors, also building on the key learnings from the current COVID-19 crisis. […]

On 21 April 2021, Humanity & Inclusion organised an online conference, hosted by the European Commission’s InfoPoint, onInclusive Education for All: Breaking Silos for Disability-Inclusive Education.

This event was an opportunity to discuss how to advance disability-inclusive education by improving cooperation across sectors, also building on the key learnings from the current COVID-19 crisis.

Speakers included representatives from the European Commission (Directorates General for International Partnerships – INTPA and for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid- ECHO), Humanity & Inclusion, Save the Children and the National Blind Sports Association of Rwanda. Each of them brought in a specific perspective on effective strategies and approaches to ensure that no child is left behind in education.

Insights on disability-inclusive education from guest speakers

Mr. Renaud Savignat, member of Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen’s cabinet, introduced the event by emphasizing the Commission’s commitment to dedicate at least 10% of the EU international cooperation budget to education. He also presented the Commission’s initiative to launch the EU Youth Sounding Board, which will allow young people to discuss and input on the issues the Cabinet works on.

Kamila Partyka, Education in Emergencies Policy Officer at ECHO, emphasized the need to ensure continuity of learning during crisis, and return of all children to school within three months of a crisis. Coordination across sectors and stakeholders is needed to make this happen.

While in timed of crisis all children face threats of exploitation, violence, child labor, psychosocial distress, children with disabilities often face additional barriers: inadequate polices, negative attitudes, physical barriers, not adapted content and methodology of learning can preclude them from accessing education”. Kamila Partycka, DG ECHO.

The multisectoral approach to inclusive education was elaborated further by the other speakers. Sandrine Bohan-Jacquot, Inclusive Education Policy Officer in Humanity & Inclusion, presented the report “Let’s break silos now! Achieving disability-inclusive education in a post-COVID world. Placing the child at the center, addressing multiple layers of barriers, and ensuring meaningful participation of persons with disabilities are key elements at the foundation of this approach. An example from a EU-funded project was presented to showcase how Humanity & Inclusion walks the talk, for instance by providing mental health and rehabilitation services to children in refugee camps.

Martina Orsander, Global Disability Lead at Save the Children, referred to their recent study on theHidden Impact of COVID-19 on Children, highlighting how children with disabilities – who had lower school attendance before the pandemic – encountered significant challenges to access education during the crisis. Save the Children recommends adopting a twin-track approach, which strengthens education systems in general and provides targeted support to children with disabilities, based on sound collection of disaggregated data.

William Safari, President of the National Blind Sports Association of Rwanda and representative of the Rwandan Union of the Blind, drew from his experience to explain how changes are to happen at the policy, service-delivery, and community level, with all stakeholders involved in this process.

The Rwandan Union of the Blind has deployed blind volunteers to deliver training in braille in six schools. As a result, children with visual impairments are now progressing better in their learning. We found that there is a need to involve Organisations of Persons with Disabilities to provide services in schools”. William Safari, Rwanda Union of the Blind

The conference was attended by 150 participants from different continents and was followed by a number of relevant questions. As the COVID-19 pandemic puts children with disabilities at further risk of missing out on education, inclusion becomes –more than ever – an imperative for global education and development actors.

 


Have you missed the conference? Watch the recorded broadcast: https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/events/inclusive-education-all-lets-break-silos-disability-inclusive-education_en


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