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The Equity Initiative: Prioritizing Disabilities – Sharpening Focus on Inclusive Education Policy and Practice.

Mon, March 26, 8:00 to 9:30am, Hilton Reforma, 1st Floor, Business Center Room 3

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


The Education Equity Research Initiative is a collaborative partnership that connects organizations and individuals committed to building stronger evidence and knowledge for improving solutions for equity in and through education. It serves to help ensure that an equity lens is incorporated into data production and research across all education and development programs and policies. With more than two dozen organizations participating in its work streams and task teams, The Equity Initiative is a vital forum for bringing collective knowledge and expertise together to address the challenge of equity. The organizations in this panel are contributing to building the knowledge base and advancing the field in understanding inequities in education outcomes and developing evidence-based solutions to address them. Learn more at

According to the World Report on Disability (WHO and World Bank, 2011) there are approximately 1 billion people recognized as disabled across the globe, representing approximately 15% of the world’s population. 1 in 10 are children. The report further specifies that 80% of this population is located in the global South.

Children with disabilities too often face societal discrimination and stigma which tends to result in their outright exclusion from fair and appropriate access to educational opportunities. UNICEF has estimated that 90% of children with disabilities living within developing contexts do not attend school (UNICEF, 2015). Those who do access formal education are often underserved by systematic shortcomings related to poorly prepared teachers, lack of supportive infrastructure, and insufficient resources and services.

To date the Equity Initiative has completed several landscape reviews and has issued recommendations on structuring common approaches to equity analysis across projects. These efforts have highlighted existing gaps across a number of equity dimensions, including those related to disabilities. An analysis of major international databases for example, has revealed that many countries do not actively collect disability data. For those that do, lack of consistent measurement tools and indicators specific to individuals with disabilities make comparability across even similar contexts challenging (Education Equity Research Initiative, 2016).

In 2017, select member organizations of the Equity Initiative formed a Task Team to explore a set of questions designed to improve the availability and quality of data on the prevalence, access and achievement of children with disabilities in education. Collective findings will help to inform improvements to policy and practice as well as further identify critical areas of study to advance the prospects of this persistently vulnerable and marginalized population.

Paper 1 presents an inclusive education policy and systems mapping that provides comparative insight into features common across select countries in the global North and South. Through a systematic approach to defining “inclusion” and identifying desired outcomes of inclusive development initiatives, Paper 2 presents an inclusive development taxonomy designed to guide collective work in this area. Paper 3 provides an overview of the recently established Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program Trust Fund designed to increase inclusive education programs across the region.

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