Make disability inclusion a core criterion

Forming partnerships to advance investment in inclusive education
Photo: Discussing the findings of the #CostingEquity report with stakeholders and civil society leaders

On Wednesday civil society leaders and stakeholders from the development sector met in London to discuss the advancement of inclusive education financing and to strengthen partnerships. The reason: tens of millions of children with disabilities are out of school, according to a report by the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), which was led by Light for the World and supported by Open Society Foundations amongst others. Governments, donors, and civil society must now act to change this situation.

For the first time, the full-length #CostingEquity research report and related material on equitable financing for disability inclusive education were presented to an audience in the United Kingdom to discuss how to take the report’s recommendations forward. The presentation entailed a panel discussion with notable development and inclusive education experts, including Profs Pauline Ross, Cambridge University Research in Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) centre, and Nora GroceUniversity College London, Ian Attfield, DFID senior education adviser; Julia McGeown, Handicap International; David Archer, Head of Programmes at ActionAid; and Nafisa Baboo, Senior Advisor on Inclusive Education and IDDC Inclusive Education Task Group co-chair, Light for the World.

Panelists stressed the responsibility of institutional donors and leading financiers in ensuring that education programmes do not skip over those most in need. "The report explains why inclusive education is a wise and worthy investment. We built the economic arguments as well as the human rights arguments because that's what many donors want to hear," Light for the World Senior Advisor Nafisa Baboo explained. "Now we are calling for donors to make disability inclusion a core criterion."

The #CostingEquity Report

IDDC’s recent #CostingEquity report on financing inclusive education, led by Light for the World and supported by Open Society Foundations and other international NGOs, highlights that at least half of the world’s 65 million school-age girls and boys with disabilities are not in primary or lower secondary school. The report gives clear recommendations to governments, donors, and civil society on what needs to happen to change this shocking state of affairs. Disability rights and development organisations are now using the report to call on governments and donors to make quality inclusive education for children with disabilities a top priority. "Costing equity gives concrete recommendations that are really quite specific and can be used in practice," said Julia McGeown from Handicap International.

Inclusive education is schooling for the vast majority of children within a mainstream system, where all children – including those with disabilities – are given the opportunity to learn together. If the international community does not combat this injustice together, we will fail to reach the Sustainable Development Goals target of ensuring a quality education for all by 2030.

Putting the findings into practice together

Several heads of international NGOs met today to discuss how they can work together to prioritise inclusive education for children with disabilities. Much agreement was this space...more to follow!