Let’s break silos now! Achieving disability-inclusive education in a post-COVID world
Handicap International – Humanity & Inclusion
Report :: November 2020 :: 52 pages
Credits: Humanity & Inclusion editorial committee (in alphabetical order): Aurélie Beaujolais, Blandine Bouniol, Francesca Piatta, Julia McGeown, Sandra Boisseau, Sandrine Bohan Jacquot, and Valentina Pomatto. Production of this report was coordinated by Valentina Pomatto. Proofread by Julia McGeown. Edited by Lucy Hillier.
Disability-inclusive education – an urgent call for renewed action
A world where inclusive education can flourish is also a world that can nurture inclusive societies. Inclusive learning environments consider diversity an asset and, accordingly, they cater for the different needs of all learners, so that they learn, grow and thrive together. Working towards this vision is critical for reducing the vast levels of inequality and discrimination currently faced by millions of persons across the globe. This is especially so for the millions of children with disabilities, many of whom struggle to receive even the most basic of educations.
The exclusion of learners with disabilities from education is due to many reasons, including inaccessible school facilities, a lack of assistive technologies, poor health, prejudice, discrimination and stigma. The interconnected and complex nature of achieving inclusive, quality education for all therefore requires stakeholders to break with siloed approaches and to work collaboratively across economic, social, cultural and protection sectors and domains.
Global progress in building inclusive education systems is now threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has severely disrupted the educations of most children, and has seen funds diverted away from the education sector. Despite this setback, governments and the global community are now in a unique position to learn from the pandemic and to renew efforts to improve education…
Building multi-sectoral, disability-inclusive education systems: key considerations
Putting children at the centre. The needs and meaningful participation of the child should be the starting point when developing inclusive education approaches.
Twin-track. This two-pronged strategy ensures that the mainstream education systems (and other sectors supporting education) become more inclusive, while children with disabilities are empowered to succeed by being provided with any additional necessary and specific supports related to their individual needs. Twin-track education strategies are designed to leave no child behind while education systems take steps to become fully inclusive.
Collaboration with civil society and non-governmental organisations. Strong collaboration with this sector is crucial. Organisations of persons with disabilities, as well as parents and other stakeholders, have been at the forefront of advocacy for better education. Organisations are also key service providers for persons with disabilities, helping fill the gaps in public service provision.
Enhancing cooperation and coordination between central and local authorities. Many countries have moved to decentralise education decision-making and spending to sub-national levels. Effective, well-coordinated decentralisation strategies have the potential to improve the quality of education services and to use education resources more efficiently.
Connected, interagency service delivery for maximised returns. When services are available as part of a comprehensive and integrated package and can be easily accessed through a single service point, they are more likely to be taken up. This has significant benefit for children with complex needs, including those with disabilities. Services offered in this way are also more cost-effective.
Collecting more, and better, data on disability. Improving data is a priority for effective disability-inclusive education strategies and frameworks. The “Washington Group Short Set of Questions” and the “Child Functioning Module” are robust and valuable tools which should be used to collect disability-disaggregated data.
Exploring strategies to include the youngest children. Truly inclusive education systems also need to include younger children, aged 0-8 years old. Currently, young children with disabilities are often excluded from early childhood development policy and programmes.