Working together for education for all

A discussion hosted by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD at the House of Lords
left to right: Caroline Harper (Sight Savers), Tom Shakespeare (LIGHT FOR THE WORLD UK), Yetnebersh Nigussie (LIGHT FOR THE WORLD), Baroness Sandip Verma (DFID) Credit: Will Pascall Photography

At a high-level discussion hosted by Lord Low of Dalston on Monday 6th June, 2016, at the House of Lords, international experts, activists from the field of global development, inclusive education academics, philanthropists, foundations, government officials and leading NGOs in the field of disability and international development joined forces to discuss how education for ALL children can be achieved – also for children with disabilities in developing countries.

The eve of 6th June also marked the launch of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD in the UK. Lord Low of Dalston, International Ambassador of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, Professor Tom Shakespeare, Deputy Chair and Trustee at LIGHT FOR THE WORLD CIO, Yetnebersh Nigussie Molla, Senior Inclusion Advisor and Dr. Caroline Harper OBE, Sightsavers, emphasised the urgent need to work together in strong international networks to grant children with disabilities access to education.

Education for a future

Lord Low of Dalston pointed out the importance of providing children with disabilites with access to education: “Without education, the majority of persons with disabilities in developing countries cannot find employment and will never be able to live independently. Thus, reducing poverty among persons with disabilities and their families means providing quality inclusive education”

“Education gives children with disabilities the chance to become productive citizens and future contributors to the development of their country”, urged Yetnebersh Nigussie, Senior Inclusion Advisor at LIGHT FOR THE WORLD. The Ethiopian disability activist spoke from personal experience. When she was five years old, she lost her eyesight. Yetnebersh overcame the barriers of exclusion in Ethiopia, and graduated as a lawyer. Not an easy path to follow considering that 90 percent of children with disabilities in Burkina Faso and Ethiopia are not given the chance to an education. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 30 million children are out of school and one in three children of primary school age has a disability.

Working together for education for all

Speakers also emphasised the urgent need to work together in a strong international network in order to provide education to everyone.
Sightsavers’ Chief Executive, Dr. Caroline Harper highlighted: “Ensuring access to education for children with disabilities in line with the SDGs and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will only be possible if we work closely with local Ministries, donors and other NGOs. We urge everyone working in education to collect data to help us monitor whether children with disabilities are being left out – as they have so often been in the past.”
Professor Tom Shakespeare, Trustee of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD UK and co-author of the World Report on Disability 2011 concluded: “Many of the world’s billion disabled people are excluded from rights such as healthcare, education and employment. I think that LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, with local partners, can make a real difference, and that’s why I am proud to be a supporter”.

Photo: Will Pascall Photography