Less Than 10% Of People With Disabilities In Africa Attending School ..As W/Bank $3Mn Trust Fund Seeks To Increase PWD Access To Education

 Yemisi Izuora 

The World Bank, has restated its commitment to boost capacity of People Living with Disabilities, PWD, which prompted its recent launch of a Trust Fund to support Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa, with funding from USAID. 

With fewer than 10 per cent of children with disabilities in Africa attending school, the $3 million Trust Fund seeks to increase access for education among children with disabilities by building knowledge and capacity across the region.

This is one of World Bank’s growing number of projects and initiatives focused on promoting mainstreaming of disability-inclusive education. 

The Bank said one of its priorities for coming years is to build a stronger knowledge base on initiatives that work, while also helping countries to design and implement inclusive education strategies.

As one of the leading organizations on the issue of disability inclusion in development, the World Bank actively participates in important gatherings such as the 11th session of the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with DisabilitiesCRPD, at the United Nations in New York. 

The Bank also hosted side events, and contribute to a range of discussions relevant to disability inclusion, such as disruptive technologies, disability data, and the upcoming UN Flagship Report on Disability and Development.

“Imagine a society where all children have access to education that allows them to lead value-creating and enriching lives, where all children are educated together and have come to appreciate each other’s potential, and where the life of a child with disability can be fundamentally changed with good education”, the Bank said.

In 2015, the world committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” More than an inspirational target, SDG4 is integral to the well-being of our societies and economies – to the quality of life of all individuals.

The Banks hopes that together this vision of education for all set out in SDG4 can become a reality, including the critical piece of disability inclusion.

Reports shows that today, 65 million primary school-age children are not in school- close to half of them are children with disabilities.

Even children with disabilities who do enroll are far less likely to complete school than others, just as some estimates suggest that less than 5 per cent of children with disabilities will graduate, and this has led to a world where only 30 per cent of adults with disabilities are literate, with shockingly only 1 per cent of women with disabilities being literate.

The marginalization of children with disabilities is compounded by the dominant perception of disability as a disadvantage, and assumptions that for students with disabilities, school is a medium for socialization and not learning. Denying disabled children the right to education reinforces commonly held attitudes and assumptions of their diminished capacity, thereby putting them at an even further disadvantage.

The Bank believes that education plans and policies can help break the cycle of marginalization. Teachers who are trained to recognize and support children with disabilities to learn can make a difference. As can assistive aids and devices – sometimes as simple as a $2 pair of eyeglasses for a child who has trouble reading a chalkboard. Good education policies are particularly sensitive to the interconnected nature of disability, gender, conflict, and location.

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