By Sean Connick | Published: 4th August 2023
In this article, we follow on from our previous one about Overcoming Infrastructure Barriers as we take a look at the global SEND (Special educational needs and disabilities) community, and challenges they face, and how determined education providers are to achieve success.
The Global need for SEND
Disability is a prevalent reality that surrounds us, affecting a significant portion of the global population. An estimated 1.3 billion people, making up approximately 16% of the world's inhabitants, are considered to have some form of disability. Among this significant number, approximately 240 million children are believed to experience some form of disability. These young individuals represent a substantial and vulnerable segment of the population facing unique challenges in accessing education, healthcare, and other essential services. A recent UNICEF report highlighted the disparities between children without disabilities to children with disabilities. Below is a summary of the report and the report can be found here
They are 49 percent more likely to have never attended school.
They are 47 percent more likely to be out of primary school, 33 percent more likely to be out of lower-secondary school, and 27 percent more likely to be out of upper-secondary school.
They are 41 percent more likely to feel discriminated against.
They are 32 percent more likely to experience severe corporal punishment.
The report can be a sobering read. There is no panacea to overcome these challenges overnight with other issues such as cultural, economic, and social playing a key part in the provision of SEND education.
But there is hope with dedicated organizations and individuals working tirelessly to provide SEND education below we will look at a few examples
Plan International is a development and humanitarian organization that works in over 75 countries across Africa, the Americas, and Asia to advance children's rights and equality for girls. Its focus is on child protection, education, child participation, economic security, emergencies, health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and water and sanitation. As of 2021, Plan International reached 26.2 million girls and 24.1 million boys through its programming. In the last 5 years, their inclusive education program has supported children with disabilities in 40 countries. They help children with disabilities access primary and secondary schools that meet their needs. They also provide specialized physiotherapy and rehabilitation, and skills training to help children get good jobs or create their businesses.
The European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education is an organization that works to promote and support inclusive education practices across Europe. It serves as a platform for cooperation and collaboration among European countries to enhance educational opportunities for children and students with special needs and disabilities. The agency provides expertise, research, and resources to help member countries develop inclusive education policies and practices. Its ultimate goal is to ensure that all learners, regardless of their abilities, have equal access to quality education and the necessary support to thrive in inclusive learning environments.
The UN Toolkit on Disability for Africa Inclusive Education is a comprehensive resource designed to promote and facilitate inclusive education practices in African countries. Developed by the United Nations, this toolkit offers practical guidance, strategies, and tools to support policymakers, educators, and stakeholders in making education more accessible and equitable for children and students with disabilities in the African context. The toolkit addresses various aspects of inclusive education, including policy development, teacher training, curriculum adaptation, and the creation of supportive learning environments. By utilizing the UN Toolkit, African countries can work towards providing all learners with disabilities the opportunity to receive quality education and fully participate in the educational experience.
The number of children with SEND needs access to education is gradually increasing but much work is still required to ensure every child has access to education.
If you are interested in further information check out The African Child Policy Forum (ACPF) report on educating children with disabilities in Africa
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