The world is in the throes of the most unprecedented disruption in the history of education. Social and digital divides have put the most disadvantaged at risk of learning losses and dropping out. Lessons from the past – such as with Ebola – have shown that health crises can leave many behind, in particular the poorest girls, many of whom may never return to school.
Quote: Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, in the 2020 Global Education Monitoring Report
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five young people were entirely excluded from education. Children with disabilities are overrepresented in this group – they are less likely to go to school, less likely to complete school and more likely to be illiterate than children without disabilities. During the pandemic, the barriers they face have only increased. Recent pre-pandemic estimates suggest as many as 33 million children with disabilities are not in school.
Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign is calling on world leaders and governments to ensure that children with disabilities living in low and middle income countries – particularly girls – can access their right to education. The recent G7 education declaration outlined the commitments needed to achieve bold targets on girls’ education, and now leaders must make sure these commitments are met.
The G7 and Global Education Summits happening in June and July are pivotal moments, as countries plan how to rebuild from the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic and get education goals back on track. Post-pandemic, if all governments are to meet their commitment to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education (Sustainable Development Goal 4) and realise the right to inclusive education for children with disabilities (Article 24 in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities), they must take action by making firm commitments that will ensure children with disabilities, particularly girls, can not only attend school, but also have the support they require to learn and thrive.