The message on inclusive education is simple: Every learner matters – and matters equally.
This was the shared spirit when experts from 12 African countries came together in Nairobi, Kenya in late October for the ‘Technical Learning Session on Inclusive Education in Africa’ to share knowledge, ideas, challenges, and priorities toward inclusive education.
The ultimate barrier to education is no schooling at all. Inclusion of children with disabilities can result in significant gains to national economies helping break the cycle of poverty.
When considering support for refugees and their host communities, gender based violence (GBV) is a great concern that requires special care and attention.
Unfortunately, violence against women and girls is all too common in many countries across the globe. Drivers of GBV include entrenched social norms that perpetuate power imbalances between men and women, and more generally circumscribe women’s agency and voice in communities and in the home. Despite a recent increase in reporting, data suggest that 45 percent of women who have experienced GBV did not seek help or tell anyone, and there are striking regional differences.
When the door closed behind her, Maria’s world seemed to collapse. The mother of a girl and two boys had just learned that her eldest son, the teenager who became the pillar of the family after their father died, was not only in a deep depression and increasingly using alcohol but he was gay. She had noticed him becoming moodier and even heard he received a warning at his job for not showing up, something totally unlike him at all. She felt helpless but knew his depression had to stay hidden from the rest of the family and the neighbors as mental health problems brought with them social stigma. But she was most afraid someone would find out he was gay, causing the family to be ostracized and endangering the future of the other children.
In 2015, the world committed to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” More than an inspirational target, SDG4 is integral to the well-being of our societies and economies – to the quality of life of all individuals.
The World Bank is developing a global standard for measuring countries’ inclusion of LGBTI individuals.
They laughed in our faces … but then we showed them the data
By the early 1990s, Dr. Mary Ellsberg had spent years working with women’s health in Nicaragua. Armed with anecdotes of violence against women, she joined a local women’s organization to advance a bill criminalizing domestic violence.
When presented with the bill, lawmakers “pretty much laughed in our faces,” she explained in a 2015 TEDx talk. “They said no one would pay attention to this issue unless we got some ‘hard numbers’ to show that domestic violence was a problem.”
Dr. Ellsberg went back to school and wrote her doctoral dissertation on violence against women. Her study showed that 52% of Nicaraguan women had experienced physical or sexual abuse by an intimate partner. Subsequently, the Nicaraguan parliament unanimously passed the domestic violence bill.
Later, the World Health Organization used Dr. Ellsberg’s indicators to measure violence against women in countries across the world, which showed the global magnitude of the problem.
“One out of three women will experience physical or sexual abuse by her partner,” Dr. Ellsberg said. Because of the data, “violence against women is at the very top of the human rights agenda.”
Dr. Ellsberg knew that domestic violence was a problem, but it was data that prompted leaders to combat the issue.
Similarly, there are plenty of documented cases of discrimination and abuse against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people. But what’s the magnitude of the discrimination?
While schools and educators aim at more inclusive approaches across the globe, it’s important to acknowledge that mainstream education settings can unknowingly exclude deaf and hard of hearing people.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, out of the 70 million deaf people in the world, 56 million receive no education at all. This is especially true among deaf women and girls, and people living in developing countries.
This is part of the learning crisis that we at the World Bank are concerned about.