‘Don’t fail us’: Sightsavers calls on leaders to address the global learning crisis

July 2021
Lesline and classmates at school in Cameroon
Lesline (left) and her classmates at school in Cameroon. ©Sightsavers/Rodrig Mbok

As the Global Education Summit began in London on 28 July, Sightsavers continued its pressure on global leaders to ensure children with disabilities can receive an education.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta welcomed world leaders to the summit, which aims to secure US$5 billion in funding for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to transform education in lower-income countries over the next five years.

Ahead of the summit, Sightsavers used its Equal World campaign to call on global leaders to address the learning crisis, which includes 33 million children with disabilities who were out of school prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through an open letter to G7 leaders and country campaigns in Sightsavers countries, the campaign asked governments across the world to use this pivotal moment to ensure education is accessible to all children and to support children with disabilities not just to learn, but to thrive. The call to global leaders was ‘don’t fail us’.

Sightsavers director of policy Dom Haslam said: “The world is in the middle of a global learning crisis and world leaders have failed to meet the US$5 billion needed just to begin addressing the scale and urgency of the problem.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is making existing inequalities worse for already marginalised children: 33 million children with disabilities were out of school even before the pandemic. These children, especially girls, are not only less likely to attend or complete school, but also less likely to learn effectively while they are there due to significant and continuing barriers to the quality of their education.

“While there were some promising commitments to disability from countries including Tanzania and Malawi, the lack of specific commitments from others shows that disability inclusion is still being sidelined. Donor governments must step up and increase their funding further to ensure inclusive, quality education is available and accessible to everyone – including children with disabilities. Investing in inclusive education doesn’t just benefit children with disabilities, it makes education stronger for everyone. World leaders need to fulfil the promises they made in the SDGs and show ambition in building back better to make sure that no child is left behind.”

Mariam sits in a classroom wearing a face covering.

Join our campaign

Our Equal World campaign fights for the rights of people with disabilities to ensure they can to go to school, find a job and take part fully in society.

More on the campaign

Read all our latest news stories

News from Sightsavers
Women waiting in a queue to get their eyes checked.

World Sight Day: Sightsavers calls for urgent action on global eye health

Sightsavers is marking World Sight Day on 14 October by highlighting that the number of people worldwide who are blind could reach 115 million by 2050.

October 2021
Three people in protective clothing and masks stand outside conducting Covid research.

Research shows ‘shocking’ exclusion of people with disabilities during pandemic

The research, part of the Inclusive Futures initiative, found many people with disabilities were unable to get help with food, medicine and other relief efforts.

September 2021
Kareen Atekem is shown in a yellow Sightsavers top standing outside next to a Sightsavers vehicle.

Sightsavers researcher wins recognition for innovative NTD project

Kareen Atekem's work on a new project to help control and eliminate two neglected tropical diseases has been recognised by the NTD Innovation Prize competition.

September 2021

Learn about our work to save sight