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.


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.
October 25, 2018
For deaf children, sign language is a vital means of communication and is most often their first language. How can we tackle the barriers preventing these children from learning sign language?
In Togo, with support from a dedicated teacher and her parents, Sougleman, a girl with disabilities, can continue her schooling and be included in her community.
Leroy Phillips, an education youth advocate for GPE, reflects on his early years after losing his vision, stigma and the programs and mentors that allowed him to thrive today.