Despite repeated pledges from the international community, including making universal education the second Millennium Development Goal, there are still over 60 million children out of school. What's more, an estimated one third of those children are living with a disability. That's a grossly disproportionate number compared with disability levels in the general population.
In September this year the UK will host the Paralympic games, the pinnacle of life time of training for many disabled athletes. This provides us a unique opportunity to bring the issue of disabled children's exclusion from education to the attention of the British Public and our elected representatives.
When it was founded in 2002 the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) pledged that it would seek to 'help get the most marginalised children into school.' Ten years on, and there are still millions of marginalised children who are systematically denied an education all over the world.
This month we are launching our 2012 fundraising campaign called Live Below the Line. We are using the campaign to raise awareness about the exclusion of disabled children from education and to raise funds for the work of RESULTS UK. Live Below the Line will enable you to start conversations with your friends and colleagues about the reality of life on less than £1 a day, and allow you to raise funds to support RESULTS’ advocacy on inclusive education and other development issues.
In the year 2015, world leaders should be coming together to celebrate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the broadest, most ambitious and wide raging statement on the future of human development ever conceived.
All over the world children with disabilities are excluded from education. Of the 67 million children who are out of school worldwide it is estimated that one third have a disability, that’s around 30 million children. It is estimated that in sub Saharan Africa 90-95% of children with disabilities are out of school. The reason these are estimates is that there is just no data: these children are never included in official statistics.
In the year 2000 world leaders came together at Dakar, Senegal and then again at New York to discuss our collective responsibilities in this globalised world. One of the most important areas in which development was desperately needed, they said, was education. To receive an education - the chance to learn, to better oneself, to read, to write - is to become a global citizen. To be denied an education is like being denied a chance at life.
While enrollment figures demonstrate that much progress has been made on girls’ education, the use of such figures create a tendency to ‘minimally achieve the targets’ set for the achievement of the education-related MDGs. New measurements on gender and education are needed to better reflect reality and efforts made by developing countries governments and donors should be channeled to ensure that children complete their education and that the school system is functional for all students.
Education has been described by some as a ‘silver bullet'. Study after study shows that basic education – especially for girls and women – is simply one of the best development investments that can be made. Education plays a pivotal role in the fight against poverty, maternal and infant mortality, ill-health, and especially against HIV/AIDS.
Over one third of the primary-school aged children who are out-of-school in the world are estimated to be disabled, but the challenge of getting them into the classroom remains ignored by governments and multilateral institutions.
This month's action looks at the barriers that prevent action on this vital issue. We will be writing to the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics to ask him to lead a global effort to monitor progress.
Our Guest Speaker for the Conference Call is Philippa Lei of World Vision UK