Dominic Haslam OBE, Sightsavers’ director of policy and programme strategy, said: “We welcome the G7 Girls’ Education Declaration, and the commitment to get 40 million more girls into education in low and lower middle income countries by 2026. We are particularly pleased about the commitment to put the most marginalised girls at the forefront of global efforts, ensuring girls with disabilities and those living in poverty are not left behind, something that Sightsavers is calling for through our Equal World campaign.
“The declaration sets out important steps to enable children with disabilities to access quality education. But these positive intentions must be followed with clear actions. It is crucial that the commitments in the declaration are backed up by strong, equitable financial allocations in the upcoming education opportunities this year brings and by inclusive approaches embedded within national education policies and programmes.
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 33 million children with disabilities in low and middle income countries were not in school. Children with disabilities, especially girls, are not only less likely to attend or complete school, but also more likely to be illiterate than children without disabilities. During the pandemic, the barriers to education facing children with disabilities have increased, and some may never return to school.
“While the global focus is on investment in education, this is an opportunity that cannot be missed to ensure that children with disabilities can learn, live independent lives and reach their full potential. The agreement signed today must be followed by concrete commitments at the G7 and Global Education summits. With the support of campaigners around the world, Sightsavers’ Equal World campaign is calling on leaders to take action to meet education targets in a way that will leave no child behind.
“We look forward to seeing these discussions continue at the G7 Summit in June. We call on world leaders to endorse the Girls’ Education Declaration and highlight the importance of ensuring education is equitable and inclusive in the G7 Summit Leaders Communiqué.”