Since nearly 10% of every country’s population of school-aged children are disabled, and 90% of disabled children are denied access to primary education, there are hundreds of millions of children across the globe who do not have the choice of an education – which restricts so many of their choices for the rest of their lives. While expanding access to education was already included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), improvements in this development area have been insufficient. Certain barriers that prevent children from accessing primary education restrict them from finding employment as adults, leading them into poverty and creating a vicious cycle. The impact of this cycle on MGOS, specifically PWD, is even worse. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to further the efforts of the MDGs in many development areas, including education.
The SDGs, in combination with other documents such as the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities published by UNESCO, collectively address how to overcome obstacles that PWD face regarding access to education. SDG 4 addresses inclusive education, and specifically mentions PWD in targets 4.5 and 4.7a. The first of the aforementioned targets is aimed at equal access, and the later prioritizes upgrading educational facilities to accommodate disabilities. Both of these targets intend to make education more inclusive. In alignment with SDG 4, Article 24 of the CRPD is devoted to diminishing discrimination faced by PWD in the education system. Additionally, the Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities addresses how to achieve equal access to education – both information and physical facilities.
The international framework mentioned above addresses how to overcome both the systemic obstacles to accessing education information, and the physical obstacles to accessing the educational environment. In order to achieve inclusive education, barriers to both of these areas need to be mitigated. UNESCO studied different approaches to inclusive education around the world to assess impact of different environments. Between special schools for PWD, special classes in integrated schools, or inclusive classes no one environment is proven to have better results. This is due to the fact that there are so many variables. The many kinds of disabilities present, the educational resources of the country in question, and the behavior of the teacher or other children in the class are all possible examples.