Progress in measuring global school enrollment gaps for children with disabilities
21 Mar 2018
Primary school girls in Nalanda Bihar, India, communicating in class. Bihar was one of the early States in India to prioritize education for children with disabilities.
It is estimated that a total of 264 million primary and secondary school-age children are out of school globally, and it is a commonly accepted notion that children with disabilities especially in developing countries and conflict zones tend not to attend school. However, it is not known if children with disabilities are a sizable share of out of school children and how big the school attendance gap between children with and without disabilities would be.Disability is addressed in two targets of SDG4 – Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all:
- Target 4.5 “By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.”
- Means of Implementation SDG 4.a “Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learing environments for all”
Children enter a classroom at Blind Charitable Society School in the city of Hebron, in the State of Palestine. The school, established in 1996, provides education for 67 children in Hebron Governorate who are visually impaired.It will be imperative to address bottlenecks to school attendance for children with disabilities to achieve the SDG4 goals.One significant bottleneck for education policy makers to support children with disabilities is the lack of data. There is a lack of concrete data showing the true scale of disabilities worldwide, which constrains the abilities of education stakeholders to rigorously analyze and monitor the educational situation of children with disabilities.There have been several attempts made to establish global standards in disability measurement. The Washington City Group on Disability Statistics (WG), which is a UN city group established under the UN Statistics Commission, developed data collection tools that can produce cross-nationally comparable data on persons with disabilities.A recent article published in the journal World Development, based on earlier UNICEF Innocenti research analyzes the gap in both primary and secondary school enrolment among children with disabilities across 15 developing countries. The article is based on nationally representative survey data sets which used the Washington Group Short Set of Questions (WG-SS) for disabilities.
disability consistently reduced the chance of primary and secondary school attendance by a median of a 31 percentage pointsThe new paper indicates that disability consistently reduced the chance of primary and secondary school attendance by a median of a 31 percentage points. In 13 out of the 15 countries studied, disability reduced the probability of attending school more than 10 per cent. In an extreme case, disability reduced school attendance by 61 per cent for boys and 59 per cent for girls in Indonesia.The study also revealed that about 90 per cent of children with disabilities who are out of school have never attended school.