A BLOG POST BY BARONESS GOUDIE
Today is the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On Tuesday many of my parliamentary colleagues gathered at a meeting in the House of Commons called ‘An equal start for all: disability and education in low-income countries,’ which discussed some devastating statistics.
Right now vast numbers of disabled children are denied their rights – around 90% of disabled children in Africa do not go to school and worldwide, one third of the 67 million children not in primary education live with a disability.
Without an education, disabled people frequently end up excluded from the workforce. Estimates from the World Bank show that this costs low-income countries well over $100 billion every year – a staggering amount.
Despite the WHO’s estimate that 15% of the world’s population lives with a disability, disabled people continue to be marginalised in international development, including in aid that comes from the UK Government.
The event highlighted the difficulties that disabled children have in getting a quality education in developing countries, and was also a chance for charities that campaign for disabled people like RESULTS, ADD International, Sightsavers, and Power International to put pressure on the UK government to act.
Compelling speeches were given by British Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike and ADD International’s Director in Bangladesh, Mosharraf Hossain, who spoke about their experiences growing up as disabled children in Kenya and Bangladesh.
Through their own stories, they painted a powerful picture of how important their education was. Anne described education as a ‘magic key’ enabling disabled people to achieve their potential, and told us that 'When I was growing up and even still today, I did not want sympathy, I wanted opportunity. I wanted to be given the opportunity to prove what I can do for the community, and I know this is what many other disabled people want as well.'
Please join me in calling for more support for the education of children with disabilities – right now millions of children across the world are being denied the chance to reach their full potential.