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2007 Annual Meetings

Education’s Missing Millions: Including Disabled Children in Education Through EFA FTI Processes and National Sector Plans

Session organized by World Vision
November 20, 2007

World Vision UK Senior Child Rights Policy Adviser, Philippa Lei, presented findings of a new report entitled "Education’s Missing Millions: including disabled children in education through EFA FTI processes and national sector plans".

The seminar included a panel of leading disability and development experts including World Bank Vice President Joy Phumaphi and former Disabled People’s International Chairperson, Venus Ilagan.

Venus Ilagan opened the panel discussion by highlighting some of the barriers faced by disabled children in accessing quality education. These include lack of political will, physical accessibility to school buildings, teacher attitudes and inadequate teacher training, family attitudes and a lack of assistive devices. She then identified a number of promising initiatives to overcome these barriers in places as far apart as Kenya, the UK and the Philippines.

Philippa Lei then set out the main findings of World Vision’s new report and challenged the World Bank to pay greater attention to addressing these barriers in the Bank’s support for education as a donor partner in the Education For All Fast Track Initiative (FTI). Specifically, she called on the Bank to:

  • ensure that its policy on disability and exclusion issues is sufficiently explicit and appropriate so that consideration of these issues is mainstreamed across all the Bank's Networks and operations and to commit to ensuring that all World Bank staff members have an inclusive perspective on their work;
  • develop a policy on inclusive education and ensure that all its support for education promotes the inclusion of disabled children – this can include the development of an appropriate education outcome indicator to include in CASs (Country Assistance Strategies) in collaboration with the FTI so that this is compatible with an Indicative Framework indicator;
  • recognise inclusive education as the key to quality education and provide grants to national governments to increase education quality through capacity building on inclusive practices;
  • ensure that inclusive strategies are promoted through World Bank Institute training and that the capacity of education planners to plan and implement inclusive provision is increased;
  • invest in local civil society capacity to represent disabled children’s voices and rights in education and development processes. The Bank should also facilitate access to its staff at country level through ensuring country offices are accessible to all and contact information is available in accessible formats;
  • give greater attention to ‘value-added’ monitoring of learning outcomes, i.e. the progress of individuals and groups of children as opposed to assessment against standard learning expectations and levels;
  • encourage school-based management structures that promote inclusion;
  • support data collection and dissemination on disabled children and education through formalising and scaling up its work on disability screening with the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD);
  • undertake research on the economic benefits of educating disabled children and on financing for inclusion to identify the costs of inclusive education.

In response, Joy Phumaphi highlighted the importance of education for all and the fact that it is not expensive to be inclusive. She went on to identify two pieces of work the World Bank could and would undertake given its comparative advantage:

  • to research and analyse the actual costs of inclusion in education – this would include an analysis of the actual direct and indirect costs of not being inclusive;
  • to work with countries to ensure that national Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) adequately capture data on disabled children to allow for planning for inclusion. She also identified that there were already promising practices in this, e.g. in the Philippines, which could be scaled up and informed the participants that the World Bank had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the OECD to undertake childhood disability screening in low-income countries for the purpose of accelerating achievement of Millenium Development Goals 2 and 3, which both focus on education.

Ms Phumaphi closed by inviting Ms Lei to a meeting of the FTI Steering Committee to present her findings and indicating that the adoption of a policy of inclusive development by the World Bank would be very powerful. She also said that she looked forward to further work between the Bank and disabled people’s organisations at country-level in order to ensure the inclusion of disabled people in all development initiatives.

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