IDDC / IDA Joint Statement on COVID-19 in relation to the
UNESCO GEM Report Launch
23 June 2020.
This statement is being issued by the International Disability Alliance (IDA)
and the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDCC) on the
release of the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report to highlight its
important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
IDA and IDCC would like to congratulate UNESCO
on the report and welcomes the GEM
Report’s recognition of inclusive education as the only way to achieve SDG 4
for all children, including learners with disabilities.
The report outlines
the gap between the learning outcomes of learners with and without disabilities,
and that those learners living in poverty, especially girls, are unlikely to
complete their primary education.. A quarter of a billion learners were out of
school including at least 32 million children with disabilities in low- and
middle-income countries (Education Commission report 2016).
The GEM Report notes
how COVID 19 has shone a light on the ways that education systems need to be
responsive to all learners’ needs. IDA and IDDC fully support the fact that the
GEM report acknowledges the effect COVID 19 has had on education systems
worldwide, and flags the opportunity and urgency to take intentional and
accelerated steps towards fully inclusive education systems in the wake of this
governments have ensured that digital and multi-media learning has been
utilised to ensure distance education can continue, this has not been
accessible to all learners. For example,
the GEM reports highlights that accessibility in relation to reasonable
accommodations has not been well considered, access to the internet is only at
12% on average in many low resources countries and not every family has a radio or TV. In order
for the COVID-19 crisis to also provide opportunities for educational
transformation, (e.g. accessibility to enable full participation) a twin track
approach is required using the
principles of universal design for learning
is required. On one track, improvements
in the whole education system are needed, and on the second track, these should
be combined with specific responses and accommodations to support learners with
different requirements to equalize their opportunities to access and benefit
from inclusive education systems.
IDDC and IDA welcome
the fact that the GEM report highlights the following key points in relation to
COVID 19 and learners with disabilities:
- Before COVID-19 10 LMIC only 19% of children with disabilities achieved minimum proficiency in reading.
- Not enough attention has been paid to the inclusion of learners from marginalised groups, including boys and girls with disabilities in response to COVID-19, which risks widening the existing learning gap and more learners leaving school early.
- Covid-19 presents an opportunity to reimagine education, celebrate diversity and realise an inclusive education for all by building a resilient inclusive society
As mentioned in the
GEM report, teachers can be taught to use flexible teaching methods and
given flexible curricula through learning about the Universal Design for
Learning principles in their approach to teaching – and we have seen innovative
methods used in practice during the school closures. Across 10
francophone sub-Saharan African countries, only 8% of grade 2 and 6 teachers
had received in-service training in inclusive education so there is a long way
IDDC Inclusive Education Task Group
International Disability Alliance (IDA)
For more information, contact IDDC Inclusive
Education Task Group coordinators: Julia McGeown (J.McGeown@hi.org), Sian Tesni (Sian.Tesni@cbm.org) or Priscille Geiser at
the International Disability Alliance (email@example.com)