Discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities

New research conducted by Street Child shows that discrimination is the biggest obstacle to education for children with disabilities in Sierra Leone.

The first ever Global Disability Summit will be held in Great Britain on Tuesday 24th July. DfID's secretary of state, Penny Mordaunt, announced this Summit through sign language - to show the obstacles for people with disability within society.

Statistics show that of the billion people living with disabilities, 800 million live in developing countries. However, planning of new inclusive education support is hampered by a lack of reliable data on education and disability.

Street Child's director for projects in Africa, Megan Lees-McCowan, explains: "There is a serious lack of information about the presence of disabilities in developing countries Street Child is committed to increasing inclusive education for children with disabilities. This research in Sierra Leone is our first step towards the understanding on how the global development community better ensure that no child leaves school too early. "

Although many may suggest that accessibility or lack of specialist resources are the main barriers for children with disabilities attending school, our latest research shows that discrimination is at the top of the list.

Megan explains: "44% of the children we spoke to said that stigmatization and discrimination were the main obstacle for going to school. This problem is underestimated and barely supported. Street Child together with our partners in Sierra Leone - WESOFOD and SCoSL - appeal to national and international communities to contribute to the development of more  evidence on children with disabilities in Sierra Leone - and globally."

The Global Disability Summit marks the beginning of change, with many organizations joining the Charter for Change to ensure the rights, freedom, dignity and inclusiveness for everyone with disabilities.

Our research shows that teachers, parents and caregivers are an important target group for combating stigmatization and discrimination, where one of the teachers say: "Children with disabilities are a big burden in the classroom." And a child of 14 years old who says: "My parents do not consider me a normal being."

Tom Dannat, CEO of Street Child: "Street Child believes that every child deserves the opportunity to go to school and learn and we constantly strive to do more of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children we work with. The reason why we commit ourselves to the Global Disability Summit and to developing programs to tackle stigma and discrimination by creating new standards and ensuring education, dignity and respect for everyone."

Download the study here.

Florian Weimert