Global Action Week for Education: Everyone has the right to learn

It’s Global Action Week for Education and access to education for millions of learners with disabilities is under threat due the COVID-19 pandemic. More funding for inclusive education systems which leave no-one behind is vital. Let's ensure that every child can go to school.
12-year-old Alira Karim encircled by his classmates in Nouna, Burkina Faso. The boy has hydrocephalus and is of short stature. He wears a blue T-shirt and has a big grin on his face.

Global Action Week for Education – it’s all about the money 

Light for the World is a longstanding member of the Global Campaign for Education. This year, the annual action week focuses on education financing, given its precarious position because of the COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic has disrupted the education of more than one billion learners, many of them with disabilities, and it’s vital that we make sure these One Billion Voices are heard.

“Education is a stepping stone for many other fundamental rights. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, 32.5 million children with disabilities were excluded from education and millions more are losing out now because of lockdowns and budget cuts,” says Nafisa Baboo, Director for Inclusive Education at Light for the World.

“It is now up to governments and funding partners to ensure that the COVID-19 crisis does not turn into an even bigger education crisis, jeopardising the progress made to include marginalised groups. The future of whole communities is at stake!”

With a joint call to action we turn to our governments, urging them to increase public funding for education to 20% of public expenditure, to explore new funding streams for education through taxes and debt cancellation and to focus on building education systems which are equitable and inclusive of learners of all ages and abilities.

High-income countries have, for decades, promised to spend at least 0.7% of their GDP on development cooperation and should deliver on that promise now. Given the power of learning, leading to more life opportunities and a better future, 20% of this should be spent on education.

At a time when low-income countries are not only fighting against COVID-19 but also the increasing impact of the climate catastrophe and rising inequality, these contributions are urgently needed. 

Starting early to reach everyone

The positive impact of Early Childhood Development and Education has been shown in our research concerning young children under five, including those with disabilities and other marginalised groups. It must be a part of all education financing discussions.

In Mozambique, one of the focus countries of our research, more than 80% of children live in poverty. 44% are chronically undernourished and a quarter of young children have stunted growth. Early childhood development services, including health care and education, are scarce. 

Yunet a 4-year-old girl sits smiling on her mother's lap_Mozambique

Four-year-old Yunet acquired a disability during birth. Her mother Candida tells us: “After her birth I told the nurses that something was wrong with my child's breathing, but they did not care. They sent me home the next day without any help.”

Her mother eventually found her way to Light for the World’s Disability Inclusion in Community Development programme, funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation. With regular support from the community workers, Yunet made great progress in her physical rehabilitation and speech. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, access to services and rehabilitation came to an almost stand-still.

“The community workers used to visit us three times a week, but due to the Coronavirus physical distancing has been imposed. Now my daughter cannot get her physio instruction and learning tips from them. I am trying my best, but I am afraid that she is losing her progress.”

It’s imperative our governments act now to protect the eduational prospects of all young children. 

Against all odds – inclusive education in times of crisis

12-year-old Juma lives in Mahad Camp for Internally Displaced People in Juba, South Sudan. As a baby, a pot of hot water fell on him, and he had to have his hand amputated. The accident also left him with learning difficulties. Attending school brought Juma independence and friends, and he was also able to join the junior soccer team. When COVID-19 numbers rose, his school was forced to close and it hit him hard. But with creative solutions from Light for the World’s community workers who connected him to another young student, he manages to study from home, eagerly waiting for the day when he can return to school and play soccer again.

Such stories of resilience and ingenuity give us hope, but children with disabilities and all other learners should not have to worry about when and how their education will be interrupted again. It's up to governments and world leaders to safeguard education and invest in the future.

Add your voice!

If you’re passionate about human rights for all, please help us draw attention to the one billion people whose education has been disrupted. Share our messages about Global Action Week, join the campaign and speak up for inclusive education!