International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3rd December saw the celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, themed, Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accesible education for all. Over one billion people, or approximately 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability. Persons with disabilities, “the world’s largest minority”, often face barriers to participation in all aspects of society. 

The impact of disability on children in low and middle income countries

In low and middle income countries disabled children are three times more like to be denied healthcare than other people and are less likely to start or stay in school than other children. 

The most common and powerful barriers for disabilitied children gaining access to education include: stigma, discrimination, inaccessible transport, unprepared classrooms and teachers. 

Despite a robust disability rights movement and a shift towards inclusion in low and middle income countries, disabled people remain second-class citizens. Misunderstanding and fear of children with disabilities result in their marginalization within the family, community, at school, and in the wider society. 

Evidence and experience shows that when barriers to their inclusion are removed and persons with disabilities are empowered to participate fully in societal life, their entire community benefits. For countries to achieve Education for All and to meet the Millennium Development Goal of universal completion of primary education, access to education must cater for all children including those with disabilities. 

Taking Action 

Disabilited children are considered to be vulnerable children as part of the World Bank's Definition of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), as explained by the World Bank OVC Toolkit, "child vulnerability is a downward spiral where each shock leads to a new level of vulnerability". 

While there has been an increase in the number of orphaned children able to access school thanks to public policy interventions, much needs to be done.

Read more about the HGSF initiative's inclusion of OVCs

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