“Children living with disability are less likely to be heard or included on every measure, and they are being left behind more often.” Photo: Getty Images.
This report compared 42 countries in its data and covered more than 60 indicators of child well-being – from nutrition and health, access to water and sanitation, protection from violence to exploitation, and education.
It confirmed that children with disabilities face multiple challenges in realising their rights.
They are less likely to be heard or included on every measure, and they are being left behind more often, says UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
The barriers children with disabilities face
This report clearly states that there are barriers children with disabilities face to participate fully in their communities and these barriers often negatively affect their health and social outcomes.
Some of the key findings include that 49 per cent of children with disabilities are more likely to have never attended school compared with children without disabilities.
- Children with disabilities are 42 per cent less likely to have foundational reading and numeracy skills.
- These children are 25 per cent more likely to be wasted and 34 per cent more likely to be stunted.
- Fifty-one per cent of children living with disabilities are unhappy.
- Children with disabilities are 41 per cent more likely to feel discriminated against.
- Thirty-two per cent of children with disabilities are more likely to experience severe corporal punishment.
However, this report says that the disability experience varies greatly.
The risks and outcomes depend on the type of disability, where the child stays and the services accessible to them. With this in mind, this report points out the importance of targeted solutions when it comes to addressing inequities.
Access to education
Children with disabilities are falling behind when it comes to access to education. Especially those struggling to communicate or take care of themselves are more likely to drop out of school. The report also found that out of school rates are higher among children with multiple disabilities.
Twenty-year-old Maria Alexandrova, a UNICEF youth advocate for inclusive education from Bulgaria, says that inclusive education cannot be considered a luxury.
She says society excludes children with disabilities in a way that no child should be excluded. She said this, taking from her own lived experiences as a person with a disability.
Alexandrova says that no vulnerable child should have to fight for their fundamental human rights alone. Additionally, governments, stakeholders and NGOs should ensure that children with disabilities have equal, inclusive access to education.
Children living with a disability should have a voice
Children living with a disability, like all children, should have a voice in the issues that affect their lives. They should be provided with opportunities to realise their potential and claim their rights.
UNICEF is calling on governments to provide children with disabilities with equal opportunities. To work with people with disabilities to eliminate the physical, communication and attitudinal barriers that keep them out of society.
Government must ensure birth registration, inclusive health, nutrition, and water services; equitable education; and access to assistive technologies for disabled people. They must eradicate the stigma and discrimination across communities.
Consult people with disability
There is a need for government to consult persons with disabilities and consider the range of disabilities that exists and the specific needs of those children and their families when providing inclusive services and equitable quality education.
This statistical analysis aims to increase the inclusion of children with disabilities worldwide by ensuring that they are counted, consulted, and considered during decision-making.
Submitted to News24 by UNICEF.
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