What will it take to have disability-inclusive education?

This article originally appeared in African Arguments on June 23, 2020 by Manos Antoninis.

Across Africa, countries are making steps to make education more inclusive but they need to do more. 

Many countries in Africa get a bad press for their progress in providing inclusive education. Just two in three children complete primary school on time, while the number of out-of-school children and youth is 97 million and growing. Less is said, however, about the range of tools being deployed to include some of those furthest behind: students with disabilities.

Inequalities in education are always blatant, but the new 2020 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse. About 40% of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have not been able to support disadvantaged learners during school closures, including those with disabilities.

Prior to the pandemic, countries in Africa were taking different approaches to inclusion. Most educate children with disabilities in mainstream schools, but have some separate arrangements for learners with severe disabilities. Nearly a quarter, however, have laws calling for children with disabilities to be educated in separate settings.