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UN report on disability and development

Despite the progress made in recent years, persons with disabilities continue to face numerous barriers to their full inclusion and participation in their communities, and in society as a whole. This is the key message of the first flagship report on disability and development(link is external) on the “Realization of the Sustainable Development Goals by, for and with persons with disabilities”, launched on 3 December at the United Nations Headquarters on the occasion of the 2018 International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

UNESCO contributed to the report, in particular on its chapter on Education. “A range of obstacles – mainly cultural, social, and financial – still prohibit people with disabilities from exercising their right to education”, stated Florence Migeon, a UNESCO representative working on inclusion in education. Yet, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes that persons with disabilities should have access to life-long learning opportunities.

The Report proposes a wide range of actions, such as strengthening national policies and the legal system, making schools and educational facilities accessible, providing adequate training to teachers, engaging civil society and local communities.

UNESCO’s actions

UNESCO has been accelerating its efforts to develop and implement inclusive education policies and programmes that ensure equality of educational opportunities for all. In 2017, UNESCO published a Guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education to support countries in embedding inclusion and equity in educational policy.

With the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education, UNESCO developed an online resource base entitled Inclusive Education in Action(link is external) (IEA), which aggregates comprehensive information on a wide-range of relevant topics as well as a unique collection of case studies to help inform policies, programmes and practices on inclusion. IEA is currently accepting submissions for case studies(link is external).

To renew the commitment of the international community to inclusion in education, UNESCO will hold an International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education on the theme Every learner matters in June 2019. The forum will also commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Salamanca World Conference on Special Needs Education, which in its Statement, declared: “All children should learn together, wherever possible, regardless of any difficulties or differences they may have. Inclusive schools must recognize and respond to the diverse needs of their students”.