What are we calling for at the Transforming Education Summit?
At the summit, more than 150 heads of state will come together in New York to set out their plans for education transformation. They will consider five themes: inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools; learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development; teachers, teaching and the teaching profession; digital learning and transformation; and financing education.
Sightsavers and partners are calling on these global leaders to put the principles of inclusion and equity at the heart of their discussion, and to include children with disabilities in all national and global education policies and plans. It is crucial that all discussions uphold their right, enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to quality, inclusive education.
Education policies should be backed up by evidence. Gaps in data collection and disaggregating data by disability, gender and other factors must urgently be addressed. Only this will ensure that the most marginalised learners are not invisible to policymakers.
Teachers and school staff need to be encouraged as they learn how to best support their pupils with disabilities. They need to be trained in low and no-tech options and alternatives to digital learning to mitigate the impact of another potential crisis like the pandemic.
The summit is an opportune time to hear directly from people with disabilities and their families, representative networks and teachers. We should listen to young people and students with disabilities, to really understand how they are engaged, or disengaged, with education. By involving people who are experts by experience, we can help ensure policies will be impactful and sustainable.
All of us within the UN system have a duty to ensure that our work is inclusive and accessible to all. The UN’s Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS) outlines the need to embed the rights of people with disabilities across all the work of the UN system. For the summit, this means making sure that any activities (online and in person) are accessible. This can be done by incorporating accessibility features such as sign language interpretation, captioning, and remote participation options.