Disabled children are still excluded from school | HI

HI works in 25 countries to promote and facilitate inclusive education for children with disabilities.

Nearly 240 million children live with a disability worldwide; many of them do not have access to education. An injustice that HI is committed to resolving…

The right to go to school

In many situations, children with disabilities are excluded from education: a child in a wheelchair, for example, cannot access the classroom if there is no ramp, or if he cannot not get on the bus that takes the students to school. Staying all day at school is almost impossible for children with physical disabilities if there are no adapted toilets.

Transforming teaching and learning

Transforming education also means reviewing teaching methods and providing suitable school materials. HI provides Braille tablets or adapted books in large print for visually impaired children. Sometimes simple adaptations can make a big difference: HI advises teachers to sit hearing-impaired children in the front row and speak clearly, facing the students, so that they understand and follow the lesson.

staggering numbers

50% of children with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries are out of school. The gender gap is striking: only 42% of girls with disabilities complete primary school, compared to 51% of boys with disabilities (UNICEF). Children with visual, hearing, physical or intellectual disabilities are two and a half times more likely to be out of school at all (UNESCO).

“Every child needs to go to school. Every child has the right to education. Disabled children are deprived of this right. Many parents do not send their children with disabilities to school because they overprotect them. Some would like to send their children to school but they fear that they will not be accepted by the school and by the community, that they will be ridiculed and bullied. People sometimes think that because they have a disability, there is no point in sending a child to school, that they will be unable to learn, especially if the school is unable to adapt. So many prejudices alienate children with disabilities from school, employment and society and keep them in poverty. They are excluded. HI has been fighting against this injustice and for the inclusion of children with disabilities for nearly 25 years. In more than 25 countries, we train teachers and school staff, we adapt teaching and learning materials and school buildings, we work with families, health professionals and other services such as rehabilitation, and we put pressure on the authorities so that children with disabilities can go to school and build their future like all other children. »

Julia McGeown, Inclusive Education Manager at HI

Barriers to the education of children with disabilities

Here are some of the many factors that limit the access of children with disabilities to education:

  • Societies often have stigmatizing attitudes towards children with disabilities, sometimes due to traditional beliefs and practices. People often blame children or their parents for their children’s disabilities or believe that the disability is the result of an illness, or is some kind of punishment or curse.
  • Teaching practices are not sufficiently adapted to the needs of some children with disabilities. For example, teachers use traditional teaching techniques such as verbal repetition and ask students to copy written content from the board, without providing alternative options for children with visual or intellectual disabilities. Educational materials, such as textbooks, are often inadequate and inaccessible to students who cannot see well, for example. Teachers generally have little or no training in teaching children with disabilities. For example, they may not think of providing larger print formats placed on the desk directly in front of a student with a visual impairment, and may assume that the child is lazy or has learning difficulties when ‘actually, it can’t read the array.
  • The school environment is often difficult to access (both to get to school and to move around the premises) and the teaching and learning materials are poorly adapted. Many schools remain inaccessible to students in wheelchairs, for example. Schools often lack toilets and sanitation facilities adapted to the needs of children with physical or visual disabilities. Classes do not always have sufficient natural light, which is problematic for visually impaired children. School transport is generally not available, and when it is, it is not suitable for children with disabilities.

All of these obstacles must be overcome.

Disabled children are still excluded from school | HI