Having lived and studied in low-income country where I survived through reading books through volunteers, I really appreciate the digital space which is really coming up especially during this Covid times.
I am grateful for all the volunteers who took their time and energy to read for most of us who were blind and since we din’t have any access of either braille, softcopy of educational materials.
Obviously, the education system never favored persons with disabilities at all, it has been a journey of advocating for policy reforms which are in progress though lots need to be done to ensure the reduction of barriers of inclusion experienced by many students with disabilities. According to UNESCCO,
More than 93 million children globally have a disability, and of those who reside in countries with high poverty levels, at least 90 percent do not attend school.
UNICEF 2021 statistics show the following: Compared with children without disabilities, children with disabilities are:
34 per cent more likely to be stunted
25 per cent more likely to be wasted
53 per cent more likely to have symptoms of acute respiratory infection
24 per cent less likely to receive early stimulation and responsive care
25 per cent less likely to attend early childhood education
16 per cent less likely to read or be read to at home
42 per cent less likely to have foundational reading and numeracy skills
49 per cent more likely to have never attended school
47 per cent more likely to be out of primary school
33 per cent more likely to be out of lower-secondary school
27 per cent more likely to be out of upper-secondary school
32 per cent more likely to experience severe corporal punishment
41 per cent more likely to feel discriminated against
51 per cent more likely to feel unhappy
20 per cent less likely to have expectations of a better life
Factors like a lack of suitable transportation and infrastructure, inadequate teacher training, or a dearth of quality learning resources prevent children with disabilities from attending or fully participating in school, leaving them among the most marginalized in access to education.
This challenge has been further compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, the UN reports a majority of countries announced the temporary closure of schools, impacting more than 91 per cent of students worldwide. Children with disabilities face an even higher risk of poor outcomes due to more pronounced social isolation, lack of tailored public health messaging and even further barriers in accessing school and education.
Without new and innovative solutions, we risk leaving the most marginalized children even further behind their peers in learning–especially reading, a foundational skill for a child to learn and succeed in school and a proven driver in reducing poverty.
Educational technology provides an opportunity to bridge these gaps and provide solutions for children with disabilities, both at home or at school. EdTech solutions are shown to improve reading outcomes for marginalized children in low-resource and crisis contexts, including children with disabilities. Being the first Innovator who os blind from a low-income country I passionately believe we can break the digital divide and contribute towards reduction of stigma and discrimination. Moreover, as disability sausage media we encourage duty bearers i.e., the state and no state actors you take action to increase literacy opportunities for children with disabilities in your work and programming.for instance,
– Policy- or decision-maker in education
For organization of persons with disabilities, thee allies and the use of media You can dramatically transform systems and policies to become more inclusive. Push for meaningful investments in and use of innovations that increase access to local sign languages and advance language and literacy learning for children and innovative solutions and teaching and learning materials for children who are autistic, blind or low vision, or deaf or hard of hearing.
Take time to learn about research and lessons learned from these approaches that can help education implementers make informed decisions about how to support the literacy and learning needs of children with disabilities. And include persons with disabilities in decision making and leadership. Disability sausage media includes people with disabilities in all we do, not only to meet their needs but to ensure they are a part of the solution to poverty we hope to build a better globe.
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The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“Excellence of making inclusion happen”