December 3 marked the 25th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1992.
More than a billion people in the world live with some type of disability. Sustainable Development Goal Four explicitly recognizes the importance of equal access to education and training for the vulnerable, including those with disabilities. Yet in the countries we are serving with early grade reading programs, children with disabilities are often at an acute disadvantage in terms of accessing quality learning services.
In a new report by the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education that examines schooling and learning trends over several decades in 19 countries, analysts note the gap in primary completion rates between children with and without disabilities has increased over time from a few percentage points a few decades ago to 17.6 points for boys and 15.4 points for girls. In large part due to the tendency of children with disabilities to drop out or not participate in schooling, the disability gaps for literacy also grew over time, reaching 16.2 points for boys and 15.5 points for girls.
Inclusive education for children with disabilities is being pursued through policy and action by our GRN community. Where can you find out more?
In June, Reading within Reach and the Global Reading Network organized two webinars about disabilities in early grade reading. The webinars focused on USAID's policies surrounding inclusive education and spotlighted USAID-supported projects in specific countries, such as efforts to improve the education of deaf and hard of hearing children in Morocco. We also interviewed UNICEF about their global commitment to disability programming. You may find blogs about these GRN webinars with useful resources and references to other projects focused on learning for children with disabilities here and here. Presentation materials from the webinars are available here.
The Global Reading Network is also preparing a toolkit on supporting reading for children with disabilities. Watch for further details on the development of this valuable resource in the months to come.
Meanwhile, this page on the UN website contains useful background information, as well as some key facts and figures relating to persons with disabilities worldwide. UNESCO's Guide for Ensuring Inclusion and Equity in Education provides guidance for moving toward inclusion.
We encourage you to expand your commitment in 2018!
Reading within Reach (REACH) and the Global Reading Network are supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by University Research Co. LLc (URC).