What we know (and the great deal we don’t) about education and disability

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

This blog was also published by ONE

New analysis confirms that persons with disabilities are nearly always worse off than those without disabilities when it comes to education 

Persons with disabilities are among the most marginalised groups in any society. Many face daily discrimination in the form of negative or even hostile attitudes and are often excluded from their fundamental human rights by poor policy choices and lack of specialised services and support. For children with disabilities, this exclusion can include the denial of the basic right to a quality education.

This matters because their wellbeing is a key barometer for progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with their emphasis on equity and on ensuring that nobody is left behind. However, hard evidence on the educational disparities linked to disability has long been marred by a lack of reliable and comparable data.

One problem has been the ‘invisibility’ of children with disabilities, with many thought to be undiagnosed, hidden at home or consigned to ‘special’ schools and, therefore, missing from mainstream education statistics. As a result, we are not even sure of their number. Some estimates suggest there are at least 93 million children with disabilities worldwide but the numbers could be much, much higher, according to UNICEF. Without this basic knowledge, it is so harder to estimate their educational status.

However, a new paper from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) is a step in the right direction, as the first in-depth analysis of the available data across 49 countries. Education and Disability sets out what we know – and what we don’t – about this challenge. Continue reading

Producing Equity Data to End the Education Lottery

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), and the authors* of The Handbook on Measuring Equity in Education

This blog was also published by the Global Partnership for Education

It is something we have come to see as self-evident: education is a fundamental right, and without it, our lives – and indeed our world – would be greatly diminished. It is something we even take for granted.

But as the most recent data show, one in every five children, adolescents and youth worldwide is denied this right, shut out of the education that could, or should, transform their lives. They are often the poorest of the poor, the children with disabilities, the refugee or migrant children. They are often girls, but in some countries – and at some levels of education – they are also boys. Continue reading