Children with disabilities can flourish in society, and education helps them get there


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What comes to mind when you think about “disability-inclusive education”? 

You may start with a few questions, such as:

Are schools wheelchair accessible? Do disabled children have a chance to receive high-quality education despite being “different”? How well trained are teachers to be inclusive of children with disabilities?

Over a billion people, about 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. Most of them live in developing countries. Every day, they tend to face different forms of discrimination and social exclusion. In Africa, for example, persons with disabilities face barriers in education, employment, and business. 

Despite these challenges, persons with disabilities can flourish in society, as proved by the studies of Professor Tom Shakespeare from the UK’s University of East Anglia.

In this video, Professor Shakespeare shared an inspiring story about a deaf Kenyan girl who managed to advance in school even with no access to a sign language interpreter. He also talked about a successful disabled entrepreneur who completed his higher education in the hospital and – despite discrimination and zero microfinance – opened his own shop and created jobs for others.


According to Professor Shakespeare, disabled people don’t need to be a burden – they can be contributors, employers, and taxpayers. Disability-inclusive education can help persons with disabilities get there.  To that end, the World Bank and USAID have created a $3 million Disability-Inclusive Education in Africa Program Trust Fund to support the social inclusion and educational participation of children with disabilities in Africa.

Watch the video for Professor Shakespeare’s insights on three questions:

  1. [0:20] Based on your research in Kenya, Sierra Leone, Uganda, and Zambia, what are the main challenges facing persons with disabilities in these countries?
  2. [1:28] How can the World Bank and other international organizations help ensure persons with disabilities are socially, economically, and politically included in daily life? 
  3. [3:16] In your case studies, who impressed you the most in terms of overcoming stigmatization and changing their life for the better?



Simona Palummo

Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist

Tom Shakespeare

Professor of Disability Research, University of East Anglia

Join the Conversation

April 01, 2018

Diversity is also to give priority to people with disability. Hope the bank will also take that into consideration.

April 01, 2018

Diversity is also to hire more people with disability ...

April 02, 2018

Definitely. Sadly, there are still many persons with disabilities who don't have access to labor markets, even if they completed higher education or got at least a high school diploma. In many countries, adults with intellectual disabilities like autism, who feel insecure and frustrated because of their condition (I am saying this out of personal experience, as I have a sibling with severe autism) also have to deal with social exclusion and barriers to employment. Their parents struggle to find ways to make their lives easier. There are countries that launched impressive initiatives to include persons with intellectual disabilities in specific job sectors, and it would be wonderful if such initiatives could be scaled up in the rest of the world too. It can be done, but of course there are many challenges. To relate to what Prof. Shakespeare says in the interview, inclusive education is certainly a first step that can increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to access better quality jobs.

Chipampe Ngulimba
April 06, 2018

Prof. Shakespeare I salute you, may GOD continue to use you Sir. I am really proud of World Bank for this platform to expose the plight of Persons with Disabilities online. For me I have 22years experience with the Deaf community from high school...they are very hard working and they a have a power of concentration because they are not easily distracted by voices like us hearing people. Finances for Sign Language materials and education are out there but corruption & bribing is too high here in Zambia. I am one of the people who was turned down on good contracts to develop materials for the Deaf but my idea and finances went to a company that didn't even have skills to develop them all in the name of sharing a cut with the client. When I was Executive Director & founder for ASLIZ-World Bank Zambia was our first donor and our mentor Mr Jumbe Ngoma. We also received more support from Mr Hartwig Schafer -Vice President World Bank Washington D.C. that funded an amazing T.V program called 'Silent World'. We had another project called Prevention & Retention of Deaf Children in Schools funded by ILO. It was a beautiful project that put genuine smiles on parents and Deaf children but when I resigned, the project & the NGO collapsed, only GOD knows where the funding went. The Deaf children are still suffering up to now. We have alot of Deaf single abused mothers struggling to educate their children then NGOs are enriching themselves in the name of supporting Persons with Disabilities. I have alot to share in this field. I have a list of Deaf youths who have completed their 12th grade but no jobs. I feel there should be a deliberate policy that will lessen the burden of Persons with Disabilities in employment, health, education, sport, accommodation, business, etc...