“No child, especially the most vulnerable, should fight only for their basic human rights.”
The number of children with disabilities worldwide is estimated at almost 240 million, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Children with disabilities are at a disadvantage compared to those without disabilities on most child welfare indicators, the new report said, according to UNICEF.
The report includes internationally comparable data from 42 countries and covers more than 60 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition and health through access to water and sanitation to education and protection from violence and exploitation. Datasets are broken down by type of functional impairment and severity, gender, economic status, and country. The study clearly shows the barriers that prevent children with disabilities from participating fully in society, and how this often leads to health problems and social difficulties.
Inclusive education should not be a luxury. For too long, children with disabilities have been excluded from society in a way that no child deserves. No child, especially the most vulnerable, should fight for their basic human rights alone. We need governments, stakeholders and NGOs to ensure that children with disabilities have equal, inclusive access to education.
Compared to children without disabilities, for those with disabilities is:
• 24 percent less likely to receive early stimulation and responsive care
• 42 percent less likely to have basic reading and counting skills
• 25 percent more likely to suffer from weight loss and 34 percent more likely to suffer from growth retardation
• 53 percent more likely to have symptoms of acute respiratory infections
• 49 percent are more likely to have never attended school
• 47 percent more likely not to attend primary school, 33 percent more likely not to attend secondary school and 27 percent more likely not to attend higher education
• 51 percent more likely to feel unhappy
• 41 percent more likely to feel discriminated against
• 32 percent more likely to be subjected to severe corporal punishment
However, the specific experiences of people with disabilities differ significantly. The analysis demonstrates that there is a whole range of risks and possible consequences depending on the type of disability, the child’s place of residence and what services he or she has access to. This underscores the difficulty of summarizing barriers to children with disabilities and the importance of developing targeted solutions to address inequalities.
Access to education is one of the many topics covered in the report. There is widespread agreement on the importance of education, but children with disabilities still lag behind in learning. According to the report, children who have difficulty communicating and taking care of themselves are more likely not to attend school, regardless of their stage of education. The number of children who do not attend school is highest among children with multiple disabilities, and inequalities are exacerbated, taking into account the severity of the disability.
UNICEF calls on governments to provide equal opportunities for children with disabilities and to remove stigma in communities and societies.