Education

Governments and international agencies such as UNESCO and UNICEF view access to education as a route out of poverty. Persons with disabilities, both young and older, face barriers in accessing education and often find themselves with lower education levels in comparison to their peers. Evidence has shown that children with disabilities who do not have access to their local school are more likely to live in poverty as an adult.

A number of international frameworks cover access to education both generally and specifically. Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Education) includes a specific reference to the need for people with disabilities to have equal access to all levels of education and vocational training. Disability specific frameworks include UNESCO's Salamanca Statement – Framework for Action on Special Needs Education. The right of persons with disabilities to access education is covered by Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

At a practice level, there is no one single approach to including persons with disabilities in education. It is dependent on a number of factors, such as community capacity, attitudes to disability, education policies and funding. Inclusive education is frequently promoted as the most appropriate option for students with disabilities along with other marginalised groups. This is however dependent on the development of local skills and capacity. Complementary or alternative models such as partial integration, specialist education and life skills training also have a place in educating persons with disabilities. Sign language and/or bilingual (spoken and signed) education are also promoted for children who are Deaf, for whom sign language is a preferred means of communication.

Resources in this section include international and regional frameworks, policy guidance, peer-reviewed evidence on educational access for persons with disabilities, and practical guidance on how to ensure persons with disabilities are able to participate in education.

See also: Children and Youth with Disabilities, Early intervention, Early childhood development, Child protection, Accessible infrastructure and communications.

Chata Male & Quentin T. Wodon (2017) Disability gaps in educational attainment and literacy (English) website with link to PDF

This note provides an analysis of gaps in educational opportunities for children with disabilities. It also measures the impact at the margin of exclusion related to various types of disabilities on education outcomes for children. Four main outcomes are considered: whether children ever enroll in school, whether they complete their primary education, whether they complete their secondary education, and whether they are literate. The analysis is implemented using the most recent census data available for a total of 19 countries.

Global Partnership for Education (GPE) (formerly Fast Track from EFA 2000)

This page sets out the work of the Global Partnership for Education in relation to children with disabilities. The GPE is a broad international collaborative response to education. Funds are controlled by the World Bank and released to developing country governments. The Asia Pacific Education network feeds into this global campaign along with GCE Education Coalitions / Local Education Groups based in developing countries with governments, donors and other stakeholders. GPE's 2014 Global Action Week (4-10 May 2014) focuses on Education and Disability and the call for more inclusive education.

Humanity & Inclusion Source: Key list on education (updated regularly)

This key list presents information about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in education. The resources featured includes a range of documents reflecting the concept that education is broader than schooling for children, and as such includes education during emergencies, community based education, inclusive education, vocational training and non-formal, early childhood, primary, secondary and higher education.

CBM (2013) End the Cycle: Indepth- Education, disability and poverty (Video)

This 2 minute video provides a brief, high level overview of the issues relating to education, disability and poverty. Presented by Australian paralympian gold medallist, Liesel Tesch.

UNESCO (2002) The Dakar Framework for Action: Education for all: Meeting our collective commitments (PDF 706 KB)

Adopted by 164 countries, this framework is a commitment to achieve basic education for all by 2015. The Education for All (EfA) framework stipulates that “basic education for all is essential for achieving the goals of eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality, and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy”. Within the framework, inclusive education is stated as the preferred mechanism for educating children with disabilities.

World Health Organization and World Bank (2011) World report on disability – Chapter 7: Education (1.72 MB) Also available in French, Portuguese and Spanish

This chapter gives an overview of available evidence regarding the education of children with disabilities. It covers the rates of participation of children with disabilities in education, compared to their peers without disabilities globally. It also provides an overview of education and disability including: approaches to educating children with disabilities; the impact of educational setting on the outcomes of children with disabilities; barriers to education; and interventions and recommendations. It is a useful source of global evidence.

UNESCO (1994) The Salamanca Statement and framework for action on special needs education (PDF 198 KB)

This Statement was adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education: Access and Quality ( Salamanca, Spain, 7-10 June 1994). It is a hallmark document, which emphasises the importance of educating children with disabilities. It outlines approaches for educating children with disabilities, and includes inclusive education. This Statement formed a foundation for later frameworks, such as Education for All, which focuses on inclusive education as the preferred mechanism for educating children with disabilities.

There are no case studies available

Washington Group on Disability Statistics technical presentation

Jennifer H. Madans Ph.D., Associate Director for Science, National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) and Mitchell Loeb,
Health Scientist, NCHS from the secretariat of the Washington Group on Disability Statistics delivered a technical session
on how to use the Washington Group questions in monitoring data systems and how to disaggregate data by disability
followed by a question and answer session at the University of Melbourne on Thursday, 30 April 2015. The presentation
was organised by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Presentation from the Washington Group on Disability Statistics
Ruma stands confidently holding a text book with Bangla characters. She is wearing a beautiful orange beaded and embroidered shawl and dress. Behind her, a group of around 10 young Bangladeshi boys and girls in school uniforms sit on the ground outside, next to a brick building, ready for a lesson, together with some young women and young children.

Photo: Wahid Adnan/Drik/CDD/CBM Australia, Bangladesh

Ruma is a young woman with disability from Bangladesh. She has overcome barriers to complete primary and secondary schooling, and enrol at college. Her dream is to do a Masters Degree and secure a job in the government sector. Read her full story here. Copyright: 2011 CDD/CBM Australia