“All are born into humankind, so all have a right to grow up and receive their education together. Breaking down all barriers that prevent this is an important part of human progress and the development of a sustainable future.” – Richard Rieser
Universal primary education is a priority of the SDGs as seen in SDG 4 to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” Two words in particular are of interest – “inclusive” and “equitable” – two concepts the world is farthest from achieving in relation to persons with disabilities (PWDs). It is estimated that between 93 and 150 million school aged children are living with a disability and many of these children face barriers that make primary education nearly impossible. As a result, many children aren’t “achieving the necessary basic skills for long term social and digital in luxgion” (G3ICT Model Policy). According to WSIS, knowing how to use technology is a global skill for global citizenship.
There are four types of barriers to primary education that PWDs face – physical, cognitive, content, and didactical. Physical barriers fail to accommodate PWDs with a physical disability while cognitive barriers don’t accommodate for intellectual disabilities. In addition, content barriers are when information isn’t in the mother tongue of the learner and didactical barriers occur when classrooms aren’t flexible to the needs of each individual student. These barriers are not mutually exclusive and are different among each student.
According to UNICEF, every child has a right to education and “quality education is a critical component of child development and a means of self-empowerment, independence, and social integration.” Without education, children with disabilities are at risk to grow up to be emotionally and socially dependent and vulnerable to long term poverty. Therefore, in order to achieve other SDGs – like to eradicate poverty – the global development community must incorporate PWD specific policies into achieving SDG 4.
One possible solution to this issue is making information communication technologies (ICTs) inclusive for all children with disabilities. This can be done by mainstreaming technologies, creating assistive technologies for those who can’t use mainstream services as is, ensure compatibility between mainstream and assistive technologies, and make sure all media is accessible. If the development community can incorporate those components, education can be much more inclusive and the world will benefit.