Partnership for Early Childhood Development &  Disability Rights


PECDDR promotes awareness and action on behalf of children with disabilities and their familiesAs applied developmental scientists, we foster the creation and use of knowledge about how children, families, and communities develop and thrive as vehicles for gaining and securing human rights and building a just and prosperous society.

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CORE PROJECT    2011-15

   Including Children with Disabilities:

Opportunities and Challenges

A cutting edge of the synergy between the human rights and international development agendas is the special needs of children with disabilities. With the 2008 adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), the challenge of addressing these needs comes to the forefront. Diverse nations and NGO's invest heavily in early child development (ECD) and inclusive education (IE) yet available and emerging tools for program implementation and evaluation neglect key variables associated with the special needs of children with disabilities. Such variables are surely related to costs and benefits of interventions, whether providing a more realistic assessment of the challenges in the target population or in generating an appropriately differentiated scaling of impacts and outcomes. New "toolkits" guide societies as they implement ECD programs; they sometimes mention children with disabilities, but too-often only in parentheses or footnote, perhaps recognizing or avoiding the significant challenges inherent in truly inclusive and equitable projects.Advocates for children with disabilities have an opportunity and responsibility to seize this moment as awareness of CRPD grows and accountability parameters articulate.

Children with disabilities merit less than a page of text in the 463 page 2009 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report. However, the report recognizes that “disability is a significant source of inequality and marginalization in education.” (p.192) and laments that “progress in recognizing disability as an area needing policy attention has been limited. Only ten of the twenty-eight education plans endorsed by the Fast Track Initiative between 2002 and 2006 included a strategy for children affected by disability. While 13 others mention disability, there is little detail of strategies for the inclusion of disabled children in education, and five make no mention at all.”(p 192-193). In the face of widespread acknowledgement of the special challenges of disability and the new CRPD mandates, these gaps and omissions threaten the effectiveness and integrity of serious efforts to meet key MDG benchmarks. Simultaneously, the recognition of these gaps and omissions allows for cross-sectoral problem-solving likely to enhance, even harmonize distinctive priorities in child development, education, social protection, nutrition, and health.

The proposed analytic project involves a mapping of gaps and opportunities facing us as we take on the challenge of children with disabilities as beneficiaries of CRPD. As toolkits for implementation of ECD programming are developed and launched, how might the needs of children with disabilities become more explicitly included? As EFA advances, how might its commitment to truly inclusive education be better realized? Just as colleagues have recently documented the relevance of the CRPD for World Bank initiatives more generally (Guernsey, Nicoli & Ninio, 2007) targeted analysis needs to focus on children with disabilities and engage the multiple stakeholders across the sectors of child and youth development, social protection, nutrition, health and education. Our best thinking and our best leadership must be rallied around these opportunities.