Original Story by Anne Nyeggen, Atlas Alliance
On June 16, Southern Africa Federation of the Disabled (SAFOD) Director General, Mr. Mussa Chiwaula, was among the delegates at the ‘Leaving no one behind’ Conference held in Oslo, Norway, in connection with Oslo Education week, whose theme focused on how to reach the last 10%, vis-à-vis the most marginalized children when school gets priority for development.
The organizers of the conference, Norad, commendably put the issue of inclusive access on the agenda of the conference not only to highlight the importance of the issue, but also to emphasize the fact that not much has been done to operationalize the school plans, policies and investments.
Mr. Chiwaula observed that as long as the disability sector was not involved, SAFOD did not believe that the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) processes and tools would have significant impact on the way the Local Education Group and/or the Sector Working Groups was organized and collaborated in countries like Malawi and Nepal. During the conference, he questioned the school representatives from Nepal and Malawi if they had involved disability organizations in the planning. It was established that none of them had involved disability organizations in particular.
On his part, Morten Eriksen, CEO of Atlas Alliance, said: “It is discouraging to realize that there are few plans to reach precisely those most marginalized, especially children with disabilities”.
Another key issue that emanated from the conference was the need for better data for inclusion, to ensure no one is left behind. It is encouraging that greater efforts are being made to support the collection of disaggregated data. One important example is in relation to including people with disabilities in household data such as UNICEF MICS, as well as in census data. Nora Ingdal from Save the Children highlighted that participation, involvement and statistics as the main factors for successful integration when she summed up the conference. There was a strong consensus among the delegates to include questions developed by the Washington Group, for example, aimed at identifying disability to be used systematically in surveys and administrative (including EMIS) data.
Mr. Mitch Loeb, one of the brains behind a new set questions that are now used in data collection on disabled people in developing countries, had good news to convey to the conference – particularly the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, Norad and Education Association – that the said questions set for Washington Group was now in use in several countries.
“We get good feedback from several of the questions that will be used in population surveys ahead,” Mr. Loeb told Anne Nyeggen of Atlas Alliance Atlas Alliance.
He added: “Statistical survey of disabled people in poor countries have long been nonexistent. Questions are designed in such a way that people will not fully respond to them. While Western countries in the nineties reported that 15-20% of the population had a disability, the figures were, for example, 0.9% in Zambia and 1.9% Zimbabwe. It turned out that the investigations were based on questions that people would not answer.”
He further explained that the system consisted of first checking if you had a disability, then proceed to get subcategories as defined if you were blind, deaf or “crippled”. Only 0.9% responded positively to these questions, as they did not identify themselves as disabled.
You can access the original story here in Norsk: