Children with disabilities

Education is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of discrimination and poverty that children with disabilities often face.

According to the World Report on Disability approximately one billion people in the world are living with a disability, with at least 1 in 10 being children and 80% living in developing countries. Children with disabilities are less likely to start school and if they do, they are unlikely to transition to secondary school. Access to school for children with disabilities is often limited by a lack of understanding about their needs, and a lack of trained teachers, classroom support learning resources and facilities.

Denying children with disabilities their right to education has a lifelong impact on learning, achievement and employment opportunities, hence hindering their potential economic, social and human development.

To ensure that all children enjoy their basic human rights without discrimination, disability inclusion should be mainstreamed in all policies and plans. This applies to education systems, which need to promote inclusion by ensuring the presence, participation and achievement of all children, including children with disabilities.

GPE’s vision calls for inclusive and equitable quality education for all, including for children with disabilities

Our results

piloted a program to enroll disabled children in school and learn from it before scaling up
introduced inclusive education and awareness-raising activities which led to a positive shift in attitudes towards disabilities
screened children to detect those with vision problems and give them eyeglasses so they could continue going to school and learning
Sources: visit our pages for Eritrea, Tanzania-Zanzibar and Cambodia

Who are the children with disabilities?

Children who are not enrolled in school but who could participate if schools had the capacity in terms of knowledge, skills and equipment to respond to their needs.

Example: Inaccessible school infrastructure which prevents children with physical disabilities from going to school; or lack of accommodating teaching methods and instruction for children with learning difficulties.

Children with disabilities enrolled in school but excluded from learning because the curriculum has not been adapted to their needs or teachers do not have the capacity or time to make the necessary adaptations, and/or they do not have access to assistive devices necessary for their learning needs.

Example: Children with low vision who are unable to see the blackboard without eyeglasses.

Children with severe disabilities who require additional specialized support, whether in school or not. This group is relatively small (2-3% of all children with disabilities).

Example: Children with moderate to severe disabilities or children with multiple disabilities

GPE in action

GPE provides developing country partners with funding and guidance to undertake education sector analysis, and develop and implement robust education sector plans that include strategies to close the gap between access, participation and learning. This is to ensure that marginalized children can have access to school.

In partnership with UNICEF and the World Bank, GPE is developing guidelines on inclusive education. These guidelines will support education sector analysis for the development of national education sector plans that include strategies to ensure that marginalized children, including children with disabilities, can exercise their right to education.


  In the front row, two blind students use Braille machines during class.  Kisiwandui primary school in Zanzibar, Tanzania. Credit: GPE/Chantal Rigaud
December 03, 2018
On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities we are republishing an edited version of an op-ed previously posted on Project Syndicate.
Two girls take care of their younger siblings in Nigeria. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
December 02, 2018
A 2017 report in 19 middle- and low-income countries on inclusive education by the World Bank and GPE concluded that 3 in 10 children with disabilities have never enrolled in school. In Nigeria for...
Students read in class. Burkina Faso. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
November 20, 2018
For Universal Children’s Day, we review a few examples on how GPE partner countries work every day to further the right to education so that children, no matter their circumstances, can thrive.
 Fabiola during an awareness raising session at school. Credit: Humanity & Inclusion
November 13, 2018
Meet Regine, a parent peer educator in Burundi, whose job is to raise awareness among parents of children with disabilities about their right to education.