Education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of discrimination and poverty that children with disabilities often face.
According to the World Report on Disability approximately one billion people in the world are living with a disability, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries. Among marginalized groups, children with disabilities remain the most excluded, discriminated not only because of their disability but also because of lack of understanding and knowledge about its causes, implications and stigma.
Children experiencing multiple forms of discrimination, particularly girls with disabilities, face a double disadvantage, because of their disability and gender. Girls with disabilities are not only confronted with stigma but are also constrained by traditional gender roles and cultural barriers.
Children with disabilities are less likely to start school and if they do, they are unlikely to transition to secondary school. Access to school for children with disabilities is often limited by a lack of understanding about their needs, lack of teacher training, unconducive school environment, classroom support and learning resources and facilities.
Denying children with disabilities their right to education has a lifelong impact on learning, achievement and employment opportunities, hence hindering their potential economic, social and human development.
To ensure that all children enjoy their basic human rights without discrimination, disability inclusion should be mainstreamed in all policies and plans. This applies to education systems, which need to promote inclusion by ensuring the presence, participation and achievement of all children, including children with disabilities.