Equal Right, Equal Opportunity: Education and Disability

Global Action Week is a worldwide annual campaign organized by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) to raise awareness of the importance of Education for All. UNESCO participates in the Global Action Week by mobilizing its networks and partners, by collecting and sharing policies and practices and by organizing activities around the world, through its Field Offices.

Under the slogan “Equal Right, Equal Opportunity: Education and Disability” the 2014 Global Action Week will focus on raising the awareness of issues around disability.

I wish to commend the Global Campaign for Education for highlighting the right to education for persons with disabilities for Global Action Week 2014. This year’s campaign yet another opportunity to advocate strongly for the rights of persons with disabilities and to urge all stakeholders to pursue their efforts to remove all types of barriers and to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in society .   

       Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

More than one billion people around the world, of whom nearly 93 million are children, live with some form of disability. Societies᾽ misperception of different forms and types of disability and the limited capacity of social actors to accommodate special needs often place people with disabilities on the margin. Persons with disabilities experience inequalities in their daily lives, and have fewer opportunities to access a quality education that takes place in an inclusive environment.

UNESCO’s work

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Guiding countries in their Policy and Action

Guiding countries with the implementation of Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, through the Education Task Force of the Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities, that is co-led by UNICEF and UNESCO.

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Developing guidelines and tools

Developing guidelines and tools that help build an inclusive learning environment as well as on teacher training such as Teaching Respect for All, Promoting Inclusive Teacher Education Series (UNESCO Bangkok) 

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Promoting research findings on inclusive education

Promoting  research findings on inclusive education: eg. “Inclusion in Teacher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa” led by the UNESCO Chair on Special Education at University of Buea (Cameroon) for the Teacher Task Force

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Promoting the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Promoting the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for access to information and knowledge for all persons, including those with disabilities (International Conferences on “From Exclusion to Empowerment: The role of information and Communication Technologies for Persons with Disabilities” from 24 to 26 November 2014, New Delhi, India). The international conference will also include a film festival on disability issues and exhibition of practical ICT solutions for persons with disabilities.


Key messages

  • More than 1 billion people (or 15 per cent of the total world population) with disabilities around the world still face stigma and discrimination to and in education. Global efforts and actions for EFA must be accelerated to ensure that:


    • The right to education of persons with disabilities is fully ensured

    • Education policies are informed by evidence based on regular and reliable collection and analysis of data on disability  ...

    • International and national development programmes prioritize inclusive education

    • All persons with disabilities should be afforded the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills throughout life

    • All learners benefit from quality education through the creation of an enabling and inclusive environment with an inclusive curriculum

    • Teachers and educators receive appropriate pre- and in-service training

    • Parents and community members are fully engaged and empowered to participate in the education of their children with disabilities.

    • Educational resources, including open resources, are sufficiently available, accessible, well-designed, affordable and adapted

    Videos Interviews

    The Jury members of the UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize spoke to UNESCO .  More Interviews

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Facts and Figures

93 million children under age 14, or 5.1% of the world’s children, were living with a ‘moderate or severe disability’. 

Around four in five children with disabilities are in developing countries. 

A 2004 census in Sierra Leone reported only 3,300 cases of mental impairment ...

In 14 of 15 low and middle income countries, people of working age with disabilities were about one-third less likely to have completed primary school.

In Bangladesh, 30% of people with disabilities had completed primary school, compared with 48% of those with no disabilities...

In Malawi and Swaziland, less than half of those aged 15 to 29 with disabilities had ever been to school, and employment rates among 15- to 29-year-olds were under 3% in Swaziland and 28% in Malawi.



  • Message from Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO (PDF)
    EN | FR | SP | AR


  • Previous editions: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010  | 2009

Key documents

  • UNESCO Bibliography