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The Missing Piece: Disability-Inclusive Education

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo's picture

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.

Disability and the right to education for all

Amer Hasan's picture
(Photo: Steve Harris / World Bank)


December 3 is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Every year, on this day, the international community comes together to take stock of the progress that has been made to advance the rights of people with disabilities around the world.

At the World Bank, we commemorate the signing of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and underscore our commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), to “ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities” by 2030. Yet, despite these international commitments, globally, too many students with disabilities still face significant barriers when it comes to attending school.  

To achieve ‘learning for all’, we must create inclusive systems for students with disabilities

Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo's picture
Also available in: Français
We should be looking at educational opportunities for all children and young people with disabilities. (Photo: Masaru Goto / World Bank)


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.

Disability and Education: From Charity to Investment

Harry A. Patrinos's picture



Today, on World Autism Day, I’d like to highlight the impact of education on what persons with disabilities are capable of achieving.  More than one billion people – 15% of the world’s population – experience some form of disability. One-fifth of the estimated global total, up to 190 million people, encounter significant disabilities. Persons with disabilities are more likely to experience adverse socio-economic outcomes than persons without disabilities, such as less education, worse health outcomes, less employment, and higher poverty rates.Most persons with disabilities are in developing countries.