The right to quality education for learners with disabilities: What makes a learning environment inclusive?

Description: Education is a fundamental human right that underpins the Education 2030 Agenda, by which countries pledged to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”  Yet, we are a long way from ensuring that all people, irrespective of their sex, age, race or ethnicity, ability, location, or other social characteristics, have equal rights to access and benefit from quality education. If we want to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the effective implementation of inclusive educational policies and programmes should be considered as a high priority.

Persons with disabilities are among those who are at greatest risk of being left behind in education and in society. They face considerable barriers to take part in quality education and training. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and deepened pre-existing inequalities in education that has impacted vulnerable and marginalized learners the hardest. At the peak of the pandemic, UNESCO stated that over 1.6 billion learners in more than 190 countries were out of school.

An inclusive learning environment is the most effective means to combat discriminatory attitudes and gender-based discrimination, to create welcoming communities, to build an inclusive society and to achieve education for all.

Discussions will explore how an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment for learners with disabilities can be achieved, both at school and at home, and will revolve around the following topics:

  • The challenges faced by learners with disabilities to access quality education during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • What have we learned and which are the good practices to ensure the continuity of inclusive quality learning during COVID-19 school closures.
  • Policies and practices that successfully included children with disabilities into mainstream schools.

The webinar is co-organized by UNESCO and Humanity & Inclusion (HI) on the occasion of the 2021 International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December). It will provide a platform to share experiences and best practices, and to discuss policies and practices that support an inclusive learning environment, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar will bring together a range of key stakeholders who are drivers of change to foster inclusive learning environments.

Interpretation will be available in: English, French, Spanish and International sign language.

Programme at a glance

  • 11:00 -11:10 - Welcome, introduction and welcoming remarks
  • 11:10-12:50 - Moderated discussions in 3 panels:
    • Supporting teachers to build inclusive schools
    • Ensuring an inclusive and safe learning environment
    • Strengthening home-school linkages to support the implementation of inclusive education

After each panel there will be a Q&A session. The webinar will also share some videos related to inclusive learning environment for learners with disabilities. 

  • 12:50-13:00    Wrap up and close 

Symposium documents

Background documents and selected resources