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Half of the world's differently-abled children are out of school: Report

'People don't see them (children with disabilities) as a worthy investment,' Nafisa Baboo, adviser for inclusive education at Light for the World, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Photograph: (AFP)

WION London, United Kingdom Oct 17, 2016, 05.32 AM (IST)

A report launched at the United Nations (UN) today reveals that "at least half of the world’s 65 million school-age children with disabilities are not in primary or lower secondary school". 


Millions of children with disabilities are being left out of school because "little  to no money is being budgeted for their needs," Light for the World, a charity which supported the research, #CostingEquity, highlighted. 


Stigma and misinformation surrounding disability as well as a lack of data on the numbers of disabled children contributes to the problem.


"People don't see them (children with disabilities) as a worthy investment," Nafisa Baboo, adviser for inclusive education at Light for the World, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.


"Many think for example that there's no point investing in their education as people with disabilities can't work."


According to the research, "a severe lack of funding, data and expertise among both national governments and global donors—even including long-standing supporters of these issues such as the European Union, the Global Partnership for Education, and USAID—is largely responsible" for the gap. 


The research has been produced by the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC)—supported by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, Open Society Foundations and several other leading disability rights and development organisations—who are calling on both governments and donors to urgently take action.


#CostingEquity strongly recommends ‘inclusive education’ as the best method for governments and donors alike to reach children with disabilities. "Inclusive education can drastically reduce out-of-school populations, it can tackle discrimination in society, and it is considerably cheaper than segregated education," said Baboo.


"It's not just morally right, it's also a smart investment."


The report, while referring to Ethiopia, raises the concern that increasing reliance on household support for education financing could exacerbate educational exclusion for children with disabilities, who are often found in the poorest households.


An estimated 96 per cent of children with disabilities in Ethiopia are out of school, and the report highlights how the government’s Education Sector Plan anticipates closing the financing gap using household and community contributions. 


(WION with inputs from Reuters) 

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