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The equity initiative: screening & identification of disabilities and special learning needs

Thu, April 18, 11:45am to 1:15pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Bay (Level 1), Seacliff B

Group Submission Type: Formal Panel Session

Proposal

BACKGROUND: EDUCATIONAL MARGINALIZATION OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

According to the World Report on Disability (World Health Organization and The 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.

Children with disabilities too often face societal discrimination and stigma which can 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, 2014). 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.

INCLUSIVE EDUCATION AS AN EMERGING PRIORITY AREA IN GLOBAL EDUCATION DEVELOPMENT

In addition to the prominence disabilities receive within the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2018), the past year has seen heavy international attention paid to inclusive education. At the end of 2017, USAID and the World Bank announced a formal partnership to address inclusive education in Africa (World Bank, 2018). Early in 2018, the UK Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) declared that disability-inclusive development (Anders, M., 2018) would be a key part of their development priorities moving forward. In July of 2018, DFID followed this announcement by co-hosting its first ever Global Disability Summit (gov.uk, 2018). DFID used the Summit to announce a new inclusive education initiative for children with disabilities (World Bank, 2018) to be supported by DFID, Norad, and the World Bank.

DISABILITIES AS A PRIORITY AREA OF THE EDUCATION EQUITY RESEARCH INITIATIVE

As the Equity Initiative’s Disability Task Team includes members from relevant international agencies, implementing partners and research institutions, we have been able to align and focus our research efforts in ways that consider existing gaps in knowledge as well as needs from targeted stakeholder groups. To date, the Equity Initiative has completed several landscape reviews and has issued recommendations on structuring common approaches to equity analysis across projects. For example, an analysis of major international databases 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, 2018).

Over the past year, the Equity Initiative’s Disability Task Team has explored a set of questions related to the following themes: 1) Screening & Identification, 2) Effective Interventions, and 3) Policy & Financing. Together this work aims 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 a case study of school-based disability screening approaches across a range of country contexts. Paper 2 presents the results of a school-based disability screening study in Ethiopia. Paper 3 presents the results of a study of the use of locally developed and validated developmental assessment tool for use in early childhood settings in Malawi.

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