23.11.2020 CBM supports the UNESCO Global Education Report in Latin America and the Caribbean

The drawings of children participating in the focal groups reflect the different barriers (physical and attitudinal) regarding education in Nicaragua. CBM

This year the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) 2020[1] was focussed on Inclusion and Education: All Means All. CBM made a significant contribution to the report and related activities. In addition to the main report, the UNESCO GEM team have developed regional reports. CBM was invited to support the Regional Report for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)[2] Nicaragua was selected as one of the countries to be studied. CBM’s Inclusive Education (IE) regional advisor, Katharina Pförtner and Indiana Fonseca (director of the Organization for Community Inclusion) led the investigation.

CBM’s Community Based Inclusive Development (CBID) and Inclusive Education (IE) partners along with the Ministry of Education and representatives from Organisations of People with Disabilities (OPDs) were consulted during this process using a participatory approach. The final Case Study was launched by the GEM report LAC team on 5th of November 2020 [3].

Katharina Pförtner and Indiana Fonseca were invited to the Annual Regional Forum on Educational Policies of IIEP (International Institute for Educational Planning) UNESCO to present the outcomes of the report. This gave the opportunity to share key findings with Ministries of Education, leading international, regional and national organizations. This event was held online from 9th to 12th November.

[1] https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2020/inclusion

[2] You can consult the resources of the regional report on this page: https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/LAC2020inclusion

[3] Different background papers/case studies: https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/LAC2020background-papers

Principle: Twin Track approach for Inclusive Education

In order to achieve full educational participation and equal opportunities, it is important to consider a Twin Track Approach:

  1. Building an Inclusive System for all learners, where teaching methods, curricula and materials are accessible, flexible and respond to the needs, interests and abilities of all learners (following the Universal Design for Learning).
  2. Making “reasonable accommodations,” which should focus on individual needs, enabling their participation with equal opportunities (Sign language interpreters, timetables, specific equipment, etc.).

All barriers to participation need to be removed in schools, health facilities, public transport and more— to create equal opportunities for the optimal development of children with disabilities alongside other children.

Some findings of the report related to Nicaragua

  • Inclusive Education is clearly stated in its legislation and policies: working towards the elimination of any discrimination (of learners with disabilities, ethnic groups, gender or poverty based discrimination, etc.), flexibility of curriculum based on individual needs, of evaluations and promotions.
  • It is the second poorest country in Latin America; nevertheless, the government promotes social programs allocating over 50% of the general budget to social programs, e.g. the “Programa AMOR”, a full-coverage national scheme on inclusive early education, where CBM partner ASOPIECAD supports capacity building for the inclusion of children with disabilities.
  • There is limited data on the attendance of boys and girls with disabilities in IE or special education centres. Nicaragua has succeeded in increasing the coverage of initial, primary and secondary education, but without data it is difficult to know the impact of this on inclusion.
  • Having a dual system of sending children to special schools or inclusive education creates its own challenges. Whilst the government supports IE, there is no official plan for transitioning from Special School provision to full inclusion and no budget allocated to IE, exclusively to Special Education Centres. 
  • Since 2009 Resource Centres for Diversity (CREAD, acronym in Spanish) have been providing information, counselling, support and teacher training, as well as preparing teaching materials for inclusive education centres.
  • Teacher training is a priority for the Ministry of Education in all education centres, but there is little tracking or monitoring for educational inclusion, the implementation or the impact of training on the quality of education delivered in the classrooms.

Voices of learners with and without disabilities

Focal groups organized gave an opportunity to hear the voices of learners with disabilities, their families and teachers.

These discussions highlighted

  1. A good understanding of equality of rights to access Education / Inclusive Education as a part of the legislation, “the law on the Rights of Persons with disabilities exists, but has not so far guaranteed the accomplishment of the right of all Persons with disabilities to study” (A young girl, student in inclusive education, Managua).
  2. The challenges faced in schools: 

"There is legislation for inclusive education, to have access, but there is no monitoring of educational quality." A student who is blind from a mainstream school, Managua.

"I feel sad because of the mistreatment of us children with disabilities, they don't want to play with me and my brother, they leave us alone." A child with low vision from a mainstream school, Juigalpa.

"The teacher can know Braille, but if his attitude is negative, he does not practice it and forgets it" Mother of a learner who is blind, Managua

  1. Possible solutions: “The other learners seemed like they were afraid of hurting me, like I was very fragile, so I told them how to support me, I explained that I like having friends, sharing, listening to music, having a boyfriend, etc. ... everything started to change” Blind regular school student Managua.


Reflecting on the outcomes of the report it is clear that there has been a great deal of progress towards Disability Inclusive Education in Nicaragua. The authors recommend that the following important pillars need to be constructed before greater inclusion can be achieved:

  • Data on the participation of learners with disabilities and their needs,
  • Planning of the transition of Special Education to Inclusive Education and
  • Monitoring of the impact of policies, regulations and training programs in the classrooms.