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Securing the right to education and early childhood development for children with disabilities

A presentation on inclusive education by Jose Viera, Chief Executive Officer of the WBU and Representative of UN Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, during the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF 2019)​
Inclusive education is central to achieving quality education for children with disabilities, and implementing Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. There are 93 million children with disabilities who are at risk of being left behind due to structural barriers, discriminatory social attitudes, or physical and communication access barriers. 

In low and middle-income countries, half of the estimated 65 million primary and lower secondary school-aged children with disabilities are out of school. Furthermore, school enrolment is lower and dropout rates higher, with few transitioning into higher levels of training and education. It is only possible to include all children with disabilities in the educational system and lower drop out rates if we take a community approach: That means we need to work with parents and the community to explain why education is important for all children and why a disability should not be a reason for non-attendance. Only when the social environment understands that a child with a disability can – with the right support – achieve just as much or more than a child without disability can we ensure that all children are taking part in all educational programs on an equal basis. 
Jose Viera, WBU ​CEO speaking at HLPF 2019

Implementation of education should be based on the CRPD Committee’s General Comment Number 4, which states that inclusive education is necessary to achieve the full and effective participation, accessibility, attendance and achievement of all students, especially those who, for different reasons, are excluded or at risk of being marginalized.

To ensure inclusive education becomes a reality, we require systemic change by using a multi-sectoral approach, adopting child-centred and universal design tactics with reasonable accommodations and tailored supports provided. Such accommodations need to ensure that children have equal opportunities to learn and socialize with their peers, using the same language such as sign language, along with easy read materials, braille, large print, and alternative and augmentative communication systems. 

Jose Viera, WBU ​CEO among other panellists at HLPF 2019​

We also need to ensure that we involve persons with disabilities and their representative organizations, building their knowledge and understanding of the inclusive education approach. It is especially important to work with national disability umbrella organizations, while at the same time being sensitive to the needs of different disability groups and bearing in mind that every child is unique and their needs will differ. Co-operation, open communication, and mutual understanding are key in building lasting relationships that will benefit the individual child with a disability. 

Only when our children are able to fully access the educational system can they become full citizens in their own right and have equal opportunities in society. So let us work together to make a fully inclusive educational system the reality for all! 

For more information about the HLPF click here..​