Inequality in Education

Volume 24 of the series CERC Studies in Comparative Education pp 149-171

Inequalities in Education for People with Disabilities

  • Susan J. Peters

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Disabled people's exclusion from education sectors—both formal and informal— is a global phenomenon. Disabled people face injustice and discrimination in every country in the world, regardless of national boundaries, national wealth or national poverty. Increasingly, the global agenda encompassed in Education for All (EFA) initiatives, recognizes that the twin goals of poverty reduction and effective access to education cannot be achieved without addressing the rights of 600 million disabled people worldwide, 70% of whom reside in countries of the South,1 and particularly in the Asia/Pacific and African regions (Helander 1992).

Recent UNESCO studies indicate that 1–2% of disabled people in countries of the South receive an education (IDDC 1999). Recent World Bank estimates indicate that people with disabilities may account for as many as one in five of the world's poorest people (Elwan 1999). Poverty and lack of education go hand in hand, and lock disabled people into a chronic cycle. Exclusion from education and employment means limited social contacts, poor health, and low self-esteem. As a result, income-generating opportunities become further reduced, leading to chronic poverty, further exclusion, and higher risks of illness, injury, and impairment (Yeo 2001, p.11).