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Exclusion from Education costs, Inclusion in Education benefits everyone

This image shows two women making accounts in a book, they are part of a self-help group
© Robin Wyatt 2013: see www.robinwyatt.org
A self-help group in Karnataka, India

A recent study found that excluding persons with disabilities incurs cost for the individual, for the economy and for society.

Study by the International Centre for Evidence in Disability

A recent study by the International Centre for Evidence in Disability, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found that excluding persons with disabilities incurs cost for the individual, for the economy and for society. The study also found that investment in education, which is inclusive, brings important gains to the persons with disabilities, their families and society.

Without the inclusion of men, women, boys and girls with disabilities, the aim of universal access to primary education advocated by Millennium Development Goal 2 will not be realised. The key findings from the study are highlighted below. These provide policy makers involved in education further evidence as to why the progress made so far on inclusive education should continue to be a priority. 

Exclusion from education: the barriers and the costs

In low-income countries, children with disabilities are significantly less likely to complete primary school and have fewer years of education than their non-disabled peers. A recent study of children sponsored by Plan International found that, across 30 countries, children with disabilities included in the sponsorship programme were often ten times less likely to attend school as children without a disability. 

The LSHTM study highlighted how the barriers to inclusion can be physical, communication, financial and attitudinal. In additional policy barriers exists. For example, in many countries, the fact that education of persons with disabilities is split across different government departments’ responsibilities e.g. health, education and social protection, results in a less comprehensive or streamlined approach to inclusive education. Exclusion from education costs people with disabilities and their families, low or reduced wage earnings. For example, the report cited a statistics from Bangladesh, which estimated that reductions in wage earnings attributed to lower levels of education among people with disabilities and their child caregivers were estimated to cost the economy US$54 million per year. 

Inclusion in Education: the legal and policy framework and the gains from inclusion

The right to education for persons with disabilities is protected by; the International Covenant on Economic and Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR); the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Children. Persons with disabilities while not explicitly mentioned in the MDGs are included and in the post 2015 discussions so far, inclusive education has been recognised as important for sustainable development. While the legal and policy framework is established on inclusive education, the case inclusive education as an investment can also be made. The LSHTM study highlighted some key statistics on this:

•    In Nepal, the inclusion of people with sensory or physical impairments in schools was estimated to generate wage returns of 20%.
•    In China, estimates indicated each additional year of schooling for people with disabilities lead to a wage increase of 5% for rural areas and 8% for urban areas. 
•    Education can close the poverty gap between people with and without disabilities: across 13 LMICs, each additional year of schooling completed by an adult with a disability reduced the probability by 2-5% that his/her household belonged to the poorest two quintiles

You can download the full report from here

[1] Project appraisal document on a proposed credit to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for a disability and children-at-risk project. Washington: World Bank; 2008.

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