Children with disabilities must not be left behind

09.07.19 | News
Børn med funktionsnedsættelse
Victoria Henriksson
“Children with disabilities must not be left behind” was the main message of a side event on children with disabilities at COSP, CRPD 2019 in New York, organised by the Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations and the Nordic Council of Ministers, among others.

Against the background of the articles of the UN conventions CRPD and CRC, and sustainable development goal number 4 on education, experts, NGOs, and public authorities met to jointly deliberate and discuss the situation of children with disabilities in 2019. The emphasis of the event was sharing positive experiences and initiatives, as well as looking critically at areas that are lagging behind. The Permanent Mission of Sweden to the United Nations and the Nordic Council of Ministers were behind the initiative, co-hosted by UNICEF and the World Bank.  

30 million children excluded

Although 90 percent of the world’s countries have strategies for including children with disabilities in education systems, there are still many children who remain excluded because some systems and schools cannot cater for their needs. In fact, this number amounts to more that 30 million children worldwide according to the Education Commission Report 2016. Mark Waltham, Senior Education Adviser at UNICEF explains that there can be many reasons for this, including a lack of physical accessibility and poor access to educational materials, as well as social and psychological issues that result in the stigmatisation of individual children.

Inspiration across borders

Various initiatives were discussed at the event with the aim of providing inspiration for the various participating countries. Moderator Charlotte McClain-Nhlapo, who is a Global Disability Advisor, spoke about the Inclusive Education Initiative, which spreads knowledge about pedagogical and technological initiatives in the field. The project is funded by Norway and the United Kingdom, and is run by the World Bank together with UNICEF.    



Knowledge that works in the field of disability

The importance of sharing initiatives that work is the main point of the Nordic Council of Ministers’ report on the social field: “Knowledge that works in practice” by Iceland’s former minister for social affairs Árni Páll Árnason. This point was made again at the side event in New York, including by Jan Christian Kolstø, state secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Culture, who called for more statistics and data in this area going forwards.

Nora Eklöv, Youth for Accessibility Network, Sweden

Jan-Christian Kolstø, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Norway

Mark Waltham, Senior Education Adviser, UNICEF

Anita Hørby, Ministry for Children and Social Affairs, Denmark

Tuomas Tuure, Threshold Association, Finland

Minna Karvonen, Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland

Thor Thorarinsson, Ministry of Social Affairs, Iceland

Mia Modig, Equally Unique, Sweden

Magnus Lagercrantz, National Agency for Participation, Sweden

Regina Mugure Mwangi, Leonard Cheshire Youth Leader, Kenya

Markus Operiano, Leonard Cheshire Youth Leader, Philippines

Eivind Digranes, Norwegian Association of Youth with Disabilities, Norway