Robson, Colin and Evans, Peter (2003) Educating children with disabilities in developing countries: the role of data sets. OECD, Huddersfield, UK.

It appears highly likely that children with disabilities comprise one of the most socially excluded groups in all societies today. It has been estimated that 85 percent of the world’s disabled children under 15 years of age live in developing countries (Helander, 1993). The brief provided by the World Bank for this study asserts that in developing countries, the “…vast majority of these children receive no education, are absent in school data sets, and invisible on the national policy agenda.” In this situation the bringing about of change in nations’ commitments to children with disabilities is critically dependent on the availability of data. This is the only route to the establishment of sound policies, strategic plans, and effective services and supports. Hence there is an urgent need to improve the quality and availability of international data related to the education of children with disabilities, in terms of coverage, reliability, and validity. Educational reform is crucially dependent on such data.
Given such initiatives and commitments on the part of developing countries there should be a corresponding commitment on the part of the World Bank and other funding bodies to providing the resources needed to realize such reforms.
In the absence of relevant data it will not be possible to ensure that children with disabilities are included in achieving the goals of two major global initiatives: Education for All (EFA), (see for example UNESCO, 2002) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), The flow of international aid from multilateral and bilateral donors, regional banks, and other donor groups to the educational needs of children with disabilities is, in part, dependent upon having adequate, reliable, and valid data. Therefore, the main focus of this study must be on data sets which identify those children who have disabilities. Given good data on who and where they are, and on the nature of their disability, it becomes feasible to target educational and other services and programs. A secondary focus is on preschool and school data sets to establish the extent to which the children identified actually have access to education, permitting an assessment of the extent to which policy goals such as equitable treatment for boys and girls are being achieved.


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