Constraints to attendance

Irregular attendance can lead to higher repetition and dropout rates, as well as low levels of learning. A variety of factors cause irregular attendance and difficulty in attending primary school, such as:

  • Many children participate in labour activities, such as working on their family’s land, which their family may depend on for survival. Even if this labour does not prohibit them from attending school all together, combining work and school has been shown to increase absences and hurt educational performance, often leading to school dropouts (UNESCO, 2015).
  • The distance to school is another major factor impeding children’s attendance, as not all households can afford transport, or transport may not be available. Schools may be too far for some children to travel safely. Inaccessible and inappropriate infrastructure affect children’s attendance to school and educational outcomes. Moreover, attitudinal barriers and school’s climate pose serious constraints to children’s attendance, participation and learning in schools.

Considering the diverse range of causes for irregular attendance and low levels of learning, strategies to address these issues will be equally diverse, including decreasing distances to school; measures to increase school’s awareness of children’s home circumstances; legal reform and community advocacy campaigns against child labour and early marriage/pregnancies and promoting the value of education for all; providing early childhood education; accessible and inclusive school environments; school feeding programmes; conditional and unconditional cash transfers; flexible delivery modes; flexible learning strategies; mobile schools; and multi-shift schooling.

* Note that for economic constraints related to direct costs such as school fees and school supplies see Policy page High direct costs.

References
UNESCO. 2015. Education for all 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

Promising policy options

Decreasing distance to school

School distance is a significant factor in school attendance and drop-out rates. Long distances increase the opportunity costs of children attending school, can tire out children making it more difficult for them to learn, and can also potentially place them in vulnerable situations (Theunyck, 2002). If children are required to take transportation to school, these costs can exclude poorer households. School distance is a particular barrier for girls’ school attendance, as safety factors may pose too large risks. Some strategies to reduce school distance include:

  • Construct new schools: placing schools near students dramatically increases attendance rates and learning outcomes for all children.
  • Implement small school model with multi-grade classrooms: implemented mostly in rural areas, this can help tackle constraints to attendance and increase enrollment rates. For example, Colombia’s multi-grade community schools programme known as Escuela Nueva or ‘New School’ ‘contributed to a 30 percent increase in rural enrolment’ (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016: 143).
  • Provide transport: to increase school attendance, education authorities should provide free or subsidized transportation for children who are forced to travel long distances and/or through difficult environments to attend school (for more information about providing transport consult Policy page Geographic school distribution).
  • Develop satellite schools which offer the first few grades (after which children will be able to travel further). For example, BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Action Committee) “satellite” schools helped raise primary enrolment rates (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).
  • Build community schools: research has found that community schools can increase enrolment and completion rates (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016). For example, the BRAC schools mentioned above are community schools as well, their completion rate is 94 percent compared to 67 percent in public schools (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016). Yet, all educational planners and relevant stakeholders must put in place adequate regulation systems for those entities, not only to ensure their quality but also to ensure the right to education (Abidjan Principles, 2019). They should also ensure a transition of pupils into public schools. For example, BRAC schools facilitate the transition towards the formal public system (DeStefano et al., 2007 cited by Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).
  • Mobile schools (described under “Other policy options” below).
  • Open and distance learning (described under “Other policy options” below).

* For more on this subject, consult Policy page Geographic school distribution.

References
Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf

The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

Theunyck, S. 2002. School construction in developing Countries: What do we know? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/ Theunynck%2520(2002)%520School%2520Construction%2520in%2520Developing%2520Countires.pdf

Increasing schools’ awareness of children’s home circumstances

Measures to increase teacher’s awareness of children’s particular home circumstances that may be negatively affecting their school performance and attendance (such as children caring for sick family members, children neglected or facing violence at home, lacking basic needs, or burdened by labour, whether domestic or productive) can facilitate flexibility and specific interventions to address the issues before the child is forced to drop out of school.

Measures to facilitate the school’s awareness of the child’s circumstances include:

  • friendly, caring attitude of teachers, promoting trust between teachers and pupils;
  • one-on-one dialogues/meetings between teachers and students;
  • specific teachers designated as counsellors for one-on-one counselling sessions;
  • home visits;
  • social records;
  • regular meetings between teachers and guardians/caregivers;
  • teachers trained on specific health/social issues; and
  • collaboration between teachers and local health workers.

Responses to support children in difficult circumstances include:

  • catch up sessions before school, after school, or during breaks for children missing school due to their engagement in domestics/productive activities;
  • special assignments to make up for missed in-class work, so children do not fall behind when they are forced to miss school;
  • flexibility in payment of fees such as offering guardians work in the school in exchange for fee payment to support families with financial constraints; and
  • referrals to external support, such as NGOs, community-based organizations, clinics, community groups to support children experiencing violence, neglect, health issues, lacking basic needs, or any other social issues requiring extra support.
References
Andersen, L.; Nyamukapa, C.; Gregson, S.; Pufall, E.; Mandanhire, C.; Mutsikiwa, A.; Gawa; Skovdal, M.; and Campbell, C. 2014. The role of schools in supporting children affected by HIV: stakeholder report 2014. Harare: Biomedical Research and Training Institute. Retrieved from: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/57266/1/__lse.ac.uk_storage_LIBRARY_Secondary_libfile_shared_repository_Content_Andersen%2C%20L_Role%20of%20schools%20supporting%20children_Andersen_Role%20of%20schools%20supporting_2014.pdf

School feeding programmes

School feeding programmes can off-set the opportunity costs of families, and are particularly effective for increasing the school attendance and participation of vulnerable children. These need to have certain conditions:

  • choose appropriate modality for context: on-site meals, snacks, take-home rations, or a combination;
  • appropriate targeting of recipients;
  • measures to ensure reasonable cost and sustainability of the programmes;
  • food should meet the nutritional and cultural needs of the children;
  • measures to avoid stigmatization and singling out of recipients;
  • food sourced locally.
References
Drake, L.; Curtis, S. 2016. Global school feeding sourcebook: Lessons from 14 countries. London: Imperial College Press. Retrieved from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/24418/9781783269129.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

WFP (World Food Program). 2009. Learning from experience: Good practices from 45 years of school feeding. Rome: WFP. Retrieved from: https://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/communications/wfp223424.pdf?_ga=2.195157036.1459275832.1526468639-1597306826.1526468639

Early childhood education

The provision of early childhood education and services can prevent the need for older children to stay home to take care of younger siblings and family members. Additionally, children that attend pre-primary programmes are more likely to enrol in primary school at the appropriate age and have the required skills to effectively learn, which also reduces the likelihood of them repeating and dropping out early.

* For more on this subject, consult Policy page School readiness.

Aligning the minimum work age with the end of compulsory schooling and abolishing exploitative child labour practices

If the legal minimum labour age is lower than the age that children leave school, there may be an encouragement for children to drop out of school to work. It is therefore important for these ages to be aligned, and for there to be coherence between child labour policies and education policies. To facilitate this, there should be strengthened coordination between the Ministries of Education and Ministries of Labour. Beyond just the existence of this legal framework, enforced implementation of the laws will also be crucial.

Governments should also fight to eliminate harmful and exploitative child labour practices. Challenges in abolishing child labour will involve preventing resulting economic hardships on families, and preventing more underground, unsafe child labour practices from proliferating. Governmental funding solutions to eliminate child labour may take the form of budget transfers from other sectors to social expenditures, relieving debts to increase domestic spending on the provision of basic needs to the poorest households, and development assistance from richer countries.

References
Grimsrud, B. 2003. Millennium development goals and child labour: Understanding children’s work. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/pt/262041468141580732/pdf/438750WP0Box321CL1standard01PUBLIC1.pdf

ILO (International Labour Organization), UCW (Understanding Children’s Work). 2010. Joining forces against child labour: Inter-agency report for The Hague Global Child Labour Conference of 2010. Geneva: ILO. Retrieved from: https://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=13333

ILO (International Labour Organization). 2003. Investing in every child: An economic study of the costs and benefits of eliminating child labour. Geneva: ILO. Retrieved from: http://white.lim.ilo.org/ipec/documentos/costos_y_beneficios_eliminacion_ti_oit_2004.pdf

ILO (International Labour Organization). 2015. Child labour and education: Progress, challenges and future directions. Geneva: ILO. Retrieved from: http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=26435

Community mobilization and public advocacy campaigns can cultivate positive attitudes about the importance of education and address socio-cultural barriers and issues, such as child labour, early marriage and pregnancies, and attitudes towards children’s education and their roles in society. This will also include advocating for legal reform when an adequate legal environment does not exist.

Governments should also promote positive attitudes about children’s education and their roles in society. Address societal attitudes and barriers to child labour, child marriage, and early pregnancy.

It is key to reform national laws and policies on the legal age of child labour and legal age of marriage (for both girls and boys), as well as promoting national policies and legislation ensuring girls’ maintain the right to schooling during and after pregnancy.

* For more on this subject, consult Policy page Socio-cultural barriers to schooling.

References
ILO (International Labour Organization), UCW (Understanding Children’s Work). 2010. Joining forces against child labour: Inter-agency report for The Hague Global Child Labour Conference of 2010. Geneva: ILO. Retrieved from: https://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=13333

Le Roux, E.; Palm, S. 2018. What lies beneath? Tackling the roots of religious resistance to ending child marriage. Girls Not Brides. Retrieved from: https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/FINAL-Religious-leaders-report-High-Res.pdf

Malhotra, A.; Warner, A.; McGonagle, A.; Lee-Rife, S. 2011. Solutions to end child marriage: What the evidence shows. Washington D.C.: ICRW. Retrieved from: https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Solutions-to-End-Child-Marriage.pdf

UNESCO. 2014. Developing an education sector response to early and unintended pregnancy: Discussion document for a global consultation. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002305/230510E.pdf

UNESCO. 2015. Education for all 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

UNESCO. 2017b. Early and unintended pregnancy and the education sector: Evidence review and recommendations. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0025/002515/251509E.pdf

Provide adequate facilities and a safe and welcoming school environment

If children find their school environments to be unsafe and/or unwelcoming, either for health risks due to inadequate infrastructure and safety practices, or due to issues such as violence and bullying, they will be deterred from regularly attending school. School climates should be safe, welcoming and supportive, providing a nurturing learning environment that encourages children to regularly attend. A number of measures need to be set in place for this to happen:

  • Ensure adequate water access and sanitation facilities on school premises.
  • Put in place health measures such as promoting Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices, including regular hand washing; establish food safety rules in the handling and preparation of food; and control environmental risks and vector-borne diseases.
  • Ensure a warm and friendly learning environment. Emphasis on greetings, encouragement, smiles; promoting an understanding and tolerance towards the diverse backgrounds of students; and fostering collaboration between students, teachers, and school staff.
  • Guarantee a comfortable and accessible, design of school and classrooms, adapted to local culture and needs.
  • Practice positive discipline.
  • Prohibit bullying and violence, put in place discipline measures.

*For more on this subject, consult Policy pages School climate and School physical infrastructure.

References
Adams J.; Bartram J.; Chartier Y.; Sims J. 2009. Water, sanitation and hygiene standards for schools in low-cost settings. Geneva: World Health Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/wash_standards_school.pdf

RTI International. 2013. Literature review on the intersection of safe learning environments and educational achievement. Washington, D.C.: USAID (The United States Agency for International Development). Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/srgbv/files/Safe_Learning_and_ Achievement_FINAL.pdf

UNESCO. 2016d. Happy Schools: a framework for learners’ well-being in the Asia-Pacific. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002441/244140e.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child-friendly schools manual. Washington D.C: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2010. Raising clean hands: Advancing learning, health and participation through WASH in schools. Geneva: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/media/files/raisingcleanhands_2010.pdf

WHO (World Health Organization). n.d. The physical school environment: An essential component of a health-promoting school. Geneva: WHO. Retrieved from: https://ia601701.us.archive.org/35/items/PhysicalSchEnvironmentV2/physical_sch_environment_v2.pdf

Other policy options

Conditional cash transfers

Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are targeted cash grants provided to the poorest households, conditional upon the school attendance of primary-aged children. This can help alleviate resource constraints that prevent children from attending school. CCTs can also be used to specifically target girls and children with disabilities, in order to address the barriers that devalue and/or impede their education. Careful consideration needs to be given to the targeting method, conditions, size of transfer, and entry and exit rules.

While generally proven effective for increasing primary attendance, an argument against CCTs is that they can require a significant amount of discretionary education spending that could be used for other programmes devoted to educational quality. Their long-term use should, therefore, be weighed against more lasting educational reforms. Additionally, CCTs can be costly to monitor, and can still exclude populations who are most in need of transfers.

It is important then to carefully select the targeting method. Target all poor households with primary-aged children or specifically those that are not sending their children to school, through means testing, geographical location, community leader assessments, or self-selection. Select appropriate conditions (rate of attendance) and size of transfer, and consider entry and exit rules.

References
Fiszbein, A.; Schady, N. R. 2009. Conditional cash transfers: reducing present and future poverty. The World Bank Policy Report. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCCT/Resources/5757608-1234228266004/PRR-CCT_web_noembargo.pdf

ILO (International Labour Organization). 2017. Ending child labour by 2025: A review of policies and programmes. Geneva: ILO. Retrieved from: http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/download.do?type=document&id=29875

Reimers, B. F.; Trevino, E. 2006. Where is the “education” in conditional cash transfers in education? Montreal: UIS-UNESCO (UNESCO Institute for Statistics). Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001476/147635e.pdf

Unconditional cash transfers

Cash transfers and grants can be provided to impoverished families without any required conditions, to reduce the need for child labour, and offset other financial related barriers hindering school attendance. Unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) are less costly to implement, and it is argued that if poverty is the main educational constraint, families will use additional funds towards education, even in the absence of set requirements (UNESCO, 2015). UCTs can also empower households, especially women (as often they will be the ones managing the money) to make their own decisions for their children. However, evidence suggests that when CCTs are based on attendance, CCTs have a greater impact on education than UCTs. Like conditional cash transfers, unconditional transfers should carefully consider targeting methods, and entry and exit rules.

References
UNESCO. 2015. Education for all 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

Flexible delivery modes

Flexible school delivery modes allow schools to be more accommodating to children’s work schedules—yearly school calendars and daily school schedules can be adjusted to fit with local needs. There should be an adequate balance between work and school, to prevent children’s work from interfering with learning needs. It often calls for strong community participation and may require extra resources for added shifts.

Set a yearly school calendar to reflect local agricultural and livestock seasons, with school vacations during harvest times, or other heavy work periods. Adjust daily school hours to better-fit work schedules—can be set by local parents, and add additional school shifts during off-work hours (on weekends for instance), and study independent models outside of school (extra assignments/projects provided by teachers), to make up loss in-class work.

References
Lyon, S.; Rosati, F. C. 2006. Non-Formal education approaches for child labourers: An issue paper. UCW (Understanding Children’s Work). http://www.ucw-project.org/attachment/standard_NFE_ and_CL_17nov2006.pdf

Flexible learning strategies/alternative learning programmes

Flexible learning strategies (FLS) occur outside of the context of traditional schooling, focusing on the needs of children excluded from the formal education system. There is no one globally accepted term to refer to these programmes that meet learning needs outside of the formal system, so the term “flexible learning strategies” encompasses a variety of programmes such as alternative learning programmes, equivalency programmes, accelerated learning programmes, certified non-formal education programmes, etc. FLS are often targeted for children who either have never enrolled or have dropped out of school and may need to catch-up to age-appropriate education, learning basic literacy numeracy skills and life skills. This can include specific marginalized groups such as refugees, minorities, girls, migrants, and children living in extreme poverty. FLS can be flexible in regards to hours of teaching, setting, curriculum, and teaching strategy, responding to the specific needs and characteristics of excluded children and ‘bringing the schooling to the students rather than getting students to the school’ (UNESCO Bangkok, n.d.).

Issues with FLS approaches include poorly qualified teachers, lack of resources, poor quality of programmes, and the risk of developing a parallel inferior education system for marginalized and disadvantaged children.

Approaches for successful Flexible Learning Strategies include:

  • national/ regional guidelines and standards for FLS;
  • a national system of accreditation for FLS, and credit transfers;
  • institutional connections and coordinating mechanisms between formal schooling and FLS;
  • monitoring and evaluation of FLS programmes (student enrolment, achievement, completion, transition);
  • programmes adapted to the needs and circumstances of the populations they are serving, with flexible delivery modes;
  • partnerships between government, NGOs and communities;
  • emphasis on quality;
  • increased political commitment, and government resource allocation; and
  • approached as a transitionary step to formal schooling.
References
UNESCO. 2013b. Flexible learning strategies country case report: Regional meeting on alternative learning/schooling programmes for primary education to reach the unreached. Outcome document. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002233/223325E.pdf

UNESCO. n.d. Flexible learning strategies for out-of-school children and youth. Bangkok: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002230/223023E.pdf

Open and Distance Learning

Distance education or open and distance learning, refers to education where the constraints of time and space are removed, and students can learn remotely using various information and communication technologies, rather than attending a school campus. Mobile electronic devices such as phones, media players, and tablet computers are becoming increasingly affordable and common throughout the world, and offer new possibilities in reaching populations that are unable to attend physical school campuses. While open and distance learning is primarily used for tertiary education, teacher training, and other programmes targeting adults, there are also opportunities for it to be applied to primary levels. Kenya recently launched a distance learning program using radio broadcasts, to reach nomadic populations. However, programmes may not be sufficiently developed yet to adequately replace in-person primary education models. Other challenges include safety and privacy issues, and education quality.

References
Kenya. 2010. Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands. Getting to the hardest-to-reach: A Strategy to provide education to nomadic communities in Kenya through distance learning. Retrieved from: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G02742.pdf

UNESCO. 2002. Open and distance learning: Trends, policy and strategy considerations. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001284/128463e.pdf

UNESCO. 2013c. Policy guidelines for mobile learning. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002196/219641E.pdf

Mobile schools

Mobile schools can adapt to nomadic and pastoralist communities’ work and migratory schedules and may consist of structures that can be dismantled, such as tents. These schools can reach populations who otherwise would be unable to regularly attend formal schooling. In Kenya, around 90 mobile schools exist, which assign teachers to a certain family or groups of families, and allow younger children to attend school during the day and older children at night. While this system allows children to learn from home without interfering in their daily work, the school costs per student are high, teachers are often unqualified and have little support and resources, and the inconsistency of children moving in and out of the system can have negative learning consequences. In Mongolia, ger kindergartens, consisting of traditional wooden and felt ger dwellings, operate during summer months in remote areas. Their costs, such as teacher salaries, are covered by the normal kindergartens that they are attached to. In this case, the ger model of mobile schooling has been successful in providing early childhood education to remote rural communities.

References
Kenya. 2010. Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and Other Arid Lands. Getting to the hardest-to-reach: A Strategy to provide education to nomadic communities in Kenya through distance learning. Retrieved from: http://pubs.iied.org/pdfs/G02742.pdf

The World Bank. 2017b. Pre-primary education in Mongolia: Access, quality of service delivery and child development outcomes. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/481101490364915103/pdf/113752-WP-PUBLIC-P152905-QualityJanWithExecMarchclean.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child friendly schools manual. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf

Double-shift schooling

Double-shift or multiple-shift schooling allows schools to hold multiple sessions during the day for different sets of students. This policy is usually implemented in order to allow schools to save on costs and resources and reduce class sizes, but another advantage is that it frees students part of the day to support themselves and their families, which can be advantageous for students facing particular constraints. However, this shortened school day often means an overall lower quality of education as globally the child will receive less instructional time.

*For more on this subject, consult Policy page Double-shift schooling.

References
Bray, M. 2010. Double-shift schooling: Design and operation for cost-effectiveness. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0016/001636/163606e.pdf

Policy options for improving Equity and Inclusion

Gender-responsive policies

Promising policy options

Promoting girls’ education and gender equality

To tackle down constraints to attendance, it is essential to promote gender equality in education through governmental policies. Ensuring a gender-responsive curriculum and textbooks is of key importance, as well as providing skilled staff and more female teachers so that girls can feel more supported and encouraged to learn.

Another strategy to promote girls’ education and gender equality is to reduce the cost of school, addressing tuition fees and financial barriers. Creating sensitizing campaigns to tackle violence, abuse, and HIV issues is also important. Cross-sectorial interventions related to health and HIV/AIDS should also be planned.

It is also important to develop, implement, and monitor policies and legislation ensuring that girls can continue schooling during/following pregnancy. School-based health services including sexual reproductive health and support for pregnant girls and young mothers should be provided.

* For more on gender-sensitive infrastructure, consult Policy page School physical infrastructure and Buildings are not ready.

* For more information on gender-based violence, consult Gender section (school-related gender-based violence) in Policy page School-related violence.

References
DFID (Department for International Development). 2005. Girls’ education: towards: a better future for all. London: DFID. Retrieved from: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/development/docs/girlseducation.pdf

Kane, E. 2004. Girls’ education in Africa what do we know about strategies that work? Africa region human development working paper series. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/girls_ed_Africa04_AFRHD.pdf

Sommer, M.; Vasquez E.; Worthington N.; Sahin M. 2013. WASH in schools empowers girls’ education: Proceedings of the menstrual hygiene management in schools virtual conference 2012, United Nations Children’s Fund and Columbia University, New York. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/wash/schools/files/WASH_in_Schools_Empowers_Girls_Education_Proceedings_of_Virtual_MHM_conference.pdf

Subrahmanian, R. 2002. Gender and education a review of issues for social policy: Social policy and development programme paper number 9. Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development. Retrieved from: http://www.unrisd.org/80256B3C005BCCF9/(httpAuxPages)/0A8ADED14E7E1595C1256C08004792C4/$file/subrahma.pdf

UNESCO. 2017b. Early and unintended pregnancy and the education sector: Evidence review and recommendations. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0025/002515/251509E.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009d. Child friendly schools manual. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual _EN_040809.pdf

Decreasing the distance to school

As expressed through the general section of the present Policy page, distance to school is a significant barrier to children’s attendance and learning in schools (GPE and UNGEI, 2017; Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016; The World Bank, 2012). A study in South Sudan illustrated that distance was one of the most important reasons explaining nonattendance to school by children –particularly girls– living in rural areas (see Annex 1) (The World Bank, 2012). Additionally, a research conducted by Burde and Linen (2012) in rural north-western Afghanistan revealed that reducing the distance to school increased enrolment rates by 42 percent as well as girls’ test scores (Burde and Linden, 2012, cited by GPE and UNGEI, 2017). This research also showed that ‘the enrolment rate for girls falls 19 percent per mile, as compared to 13 percent for boys’ (Burde and Linden, 2012, cited by GPE and UNGEI, 2017: 48).

Although all of the different strategies recommended in the general section of the present Policy page apply for this category, certain among them will be referenced once again to illustrate particular successful examples.

  • Although placing schools near students dramatically increase attendance rates and learning outcomes for all children, this policy has a particular effect on girls. For instance, an analysis of 31 villages in north-western Afghanistan, where local schools were constructed, showed a significant improvement in girls’ enrolment rates and average test scores (Burde and Linden, 2013).  
  • Satellite schools have also contributed to girls’ education. For example, BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Action Committee) “satellite” schools, which offer the first three years of primary education helped raise girls’ primary enrolment rates (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).
  • Community schools have been proven to increase enrolment and completion rates, particularly of girls. For example, in Mali, community schools raised girls’ enrolment by 67 percent. They have also been successful in improving girls’ learning progress. For instance, in Upper Egypt 97 percent of girls attending a community school passed national examinations compared to 73 percent of girls in public schools (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).

Annex 1

Reasons for Not Attending School, Boys and Girls, Urban and Rural, 2009

Source: The World Bank. 2012. Education in the Republic of South Sudan: status and challenges for a new system. p. 53. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/787661468302991853/Education-in-the-Republic-of-South-Sudan-status-and-challenges-for-a-new-system

References
Burde, D.; Linden, L.L. 2013. ‘Bringing Education to Afghan Girls: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Village-Based Schools.’ In: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, vol. 5, (3), pp. 27–40. Retrieved from: http://www.leighlinden.com/Afghanistan_Girls_Ed.pdf

GPE (Global Partnership for Education), UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Guidance for Developing Gender-Responsive Education Sector Plans. Washington D.C.: The Global Partnership for Education. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/ content/guidance-developing-gender-responsive-education-sector-plans

Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf

The World Bank. 2012. Education in the Republic of South Sudan: status and challenges for a new system. Washington, DC: The World Bank. Retrieved from: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/787661468302991853/Education-in-the-Republic-of-South-Sudan-status-and-challenges-for-a-new-system

Theunyck, S. 2002. School construction in developing Countries: What do we know? Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://humanitarianlibrary.org/sites/default/files/2014/02/ Theunynck%2520(2002)%520School%2520Construction%2520in%2520Developing%2520Countires.pdf

Aligning the minimum work age with the end of compulsory schooling and abolishing exploitative child labour practices

Research has shown that one of the main factors causing boys to fall behind girls in participation, progression and learning rates, is due to the desire and/or need to work (UNESCO-GEM Report, 2018). This issue is exacerbated in countries were entering the labour market is relatively easy, which is why it is of utmost importance to implement the policy recommendations mentioned in the general section of the present Policy page. Additionally, intensive household chores and the obligation of caring for younger siblings can also negatively influence children’s attendance and school performance, especially for girls. In such a context, allowing the possibility for flexible school schedules should be considered (see the section below).

References
UNESCO. 2015. Education for all 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. 2018. Achieving gender equality in education: don’t forget the boys, Policy Paper 35. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000262714

Community mobilization/advocacy campaigns and legal reform

As expressed before, community mobilization, engagement, and public advocacy campaigns are recommended to enhance positive attitudes on the importance of children’s education and address socio-cultural barriers impeding it.

* For specific recommendations consult the general section of the present Policy page as well as the Policy page Socio-cultural barriers to schooling.

Provide adequate facilities and a safe and welcoming school environment

All of the policies and strategies recommended in the general section of the present Policy page apply. Yet, it is important to re-state the following recommendations through gender lens:

  • Sanitation and hygiene facilities should be gender-responsive. Separate, private toilets or latrines for girls and boys should be provided, as well as sufficient washing facilities that allow girls to safely and privately wash out and change their sanitary rags/pads. Schools should also consider supplying sanitary materials for girls’ menstruation. This can be done through the integration of a minimum package for menstrual hygiene management (MHM).
  • School climate must be gender-responsive, inclusive, welcoming, supportive and provide a nurturing learning context (for specific recommendations consult the Policy page School climate). Moreover, special attention and strategies must be implemented to tackle down school-related gender-based violence. SRGBV ‘is a major reason for children dropping out of school, with girls experiencing predominantly sexual violence, and boys more often physical violence from teachers, staff and peers’ (for recommendations consult Gender section in Policy page School-related violence) (Leonard Cheshire Disability and UNGEI, 2017: 12).
References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2009f. ‘Location, design and construction’. In: Child Friendly Schools Manual. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/devpro/files/CFSManual_Ch03_052009.pdf

Leonard Cheshire Disability, UNGEI (United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative). 2017. Still left behind: Pathways to inclusive education for girls with disabilities. London: Leonard Cheshire Disability. Retrieved from: http://www.ungei.org/Still_Left_Behind_Full_Report.PDF

Other policy options

Conditional cash transfers

As expressed throughout the general section of the present Policy page, conditional cash transfers can specifically target girls and address risks of child marriage or cultural barriers that devalue girls’ education. This policy recommendation could also be implemented in countries where boys are particularly affected due to the need to work (UNESCO-GEM Report, 2018).

* For precise information on this strategy consult the general section of the present Policy page.

References
Fiszbein, A.; Schady, N. R. 2009. Conditional cash transfers: reducing present and future poverty. The World Bank Policy Report. Washington D.C.: The World Bank. Retrieved from: https://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTCCT/Resources/5757608-1234228266004/PRR-CCT_web_noembargo.pdf

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. 2018. Achieving gender equality in education: don’t forget the boys, Policy Paper 35. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000262714

Flexible delivery modes

Implementing flexible delivery modes are recommended in regular and community-schools as they help ‘boost enrolment by accommodating children’s work, making it easier for children to care for younger siblings, do chores, or even work for wages while enrolled in school’ (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016: 146). Although this policy option does raise up many issues, such as allowing children to attend school part-time, in many cases and for many children, this might be the most realistic option to enjoy an educational opportunity. For example, Bangladesh’s BRAC schools, which operate only 2.5 hours daily, have allowed drop-out figures to stay below 1 percent of enrolled students (Sperling, Winthrop and Kwauk, 2016).).

* For precise information on this strategy consult the general section of the present Policy page.

References
Lyon, S.; Rosati, F. C. 2006. Non-Formal education approaches for child labourers: An issue paper. UCW (Understanding Children’s Work). Retrieved from: http://www.ucw-project.org/attachment/standard_NFE_ and_CL_17nov2006.pdf

Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf

Policies for children with disabilities

Promising policy options

Implementing an adequate legal and policy framework (Inclusive Education)

Concerning the legal framework, there are numerous conventions, declarations, and frameworks exist at the international level outlining the right to education for children with disabilities. For instance, the Salamanca Statement recognizes the necessity of the regular education system to provide education for children with disabilities (UNESCO, 1994). Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) recognizes the right to education of persons with disabilities and calls all States Parties to ensure an inclusive education system at all levels (UN General Assembly, 2007). It is recommended for every country to ratify and implement such conventions to ensure that their education laws are in congruence with them (UNICEF, 2014a). For example, Viet Nam, with the support of UNICEF, strengthened its legal framework to promote the rights of children with disabilities, and, in particular, two government circulars were issued concerning their education (UNICEF, 2014a).

Concerning the policy framework, it is recommended that governments address the question of the education of children with disabilities through the Education Sector Plans (ESP) and policies. Through ESPs, governments can ensure that sufficient capacity, leadership, and resources are allocated to the establishment of inclusive education systems. This could ensure that the curricula, learning materials, learning processes, and assessments, among many other aspects, are accessible to all children, including children with disabilities (UNICEF, 2014a). For example, Tanzania’s Education Sector Development Plan (2008-2017) stated: ‘wherever possible, all children with special educational needs should be educated in “normal” classes in “normal” schools. This inclusive approach necessitates teachers being appropriately trained together with “disability-friendly” school buildings and community awareness-raising as necessary’ (Tanzania, 2008: 20). In Europe, countries such as Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Norway, and Portugal encourage inclusive education (UNESCO, 2015a). It is important to know that although having an inclusive education system is the recommended goal, it is also a process. Thus, in reality, many countries in that process may have hybrid policies in place –which may include special and integration strategies. As long as the general movement leads towards more inclusionary practices and is geared towards meeting all children’s needs, hybrid policies can be taken advantage of (UNESCO, 2015a).  

In general, to reduce the vulnerability of children –peoples– with disabilities, States should provide clear legal and policy frameworks to tackle down discrimination against them and entitle them to protection (UNICEF, 2013).

References
EDT (Education Development Trust); UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2016. Eastern and Southern Africa regional study on the fulfilment of the right to education of children with disabilities. Reading: EDT. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/esaro/Regional-children-with-disabilities-UNICEF-EDT-2016.pdf

Tanzania. 2008. Education Sector Development Programme 2008-2017, Revised Edition. Retrieved from: https://www.globalpartnership.org/sites/default/files/2008-01-Tanzania-Mainland-Sector-Plan.pdf

UN General Assembly. 2007. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly. A/RES/61/106. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf 

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. n.d. GEM Report summary on disabilities and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/GAW2014-Facts-Figures-gmr_0.pdf.pdf

UNESCO. 1994. The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Educational Needs. Salamanca: Ministry of Education and Science Spain and UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://www.unesco.org/education/pdf/SALAMA_E.PDF

UNESCO. 2015a. Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

UNESCO. 2019. The right to education for persons with disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000371249

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

Importance of data and monitoring systems to identify the constraints to attendance and provide data-based policy measures

Reliable and objective data allows governments to recognize the constraints impeding children with disabilities’ access, retention and learning within schools. A sound data collection and analysis system allows countries to elaborate context-specific and appropriate policy measures, as well as monitor and evaluate their implementation process and their outcomes. Thus, collecting data on children with disabilities is of utmost importance. Since disability is the ‘result of the interaction between an individual’s functional limitations and barriers in the environment’ the data collection system must include information on the constraints posed by school facilities, materials, human resources, among others (Mont, 2018).

Governments must strengthen their Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) ‘to collect reliable, objective and disaggregated data by disability and impairment type as well as report data on the accessibility and inclusiveness of the school system to inform educational planning’ (UNICEF, 2014a: 29). For this purpose, the set of questions, known as the Child Functioning Module (CFM), developed by UNICEF and United Nation’s Washington Group on Disability Statistics can be included within their existing surveys (for more information consult UNICEF Data, 2018). UNESCO-led OpenEMIS initiative, which has incorporated the CFM, could also be used (Mont, 2018).

References
Mont, D. 2018. Blog: Collecting Data for Inclusive Education. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO Learning Portal. Retrieved from: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/blog/collecting-data-for-inclusive-education

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014a. Conceptualizing­ Inclusive Education and Contextualizing­ it within the UNICEF Mission: Webinar 1 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/eca/education

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2014b. Education Management Information Systems and Children with Disabilities: Webinar 6 – Companion Technical Booklet. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: http://www.inclusive-education.org/sites/default/files/uploads/booklets/IE_ Webinar_Booklet_6.pdf

UNICEF Data (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2018. Child Functioning. Accessed 17 July 2019: https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-disability/module-on-child-functioning/

Community mobilization/advocacy campaigns

Negative attitudes toward disability –coming from parents, community members, schools, teachers and decision-makers– pose an enormous constraint when it comes to mainstream education for children with disabilities (Save the Children, 2002). Inclusive education lies in the common vision that all children have the right and, thus, should have the opportunity, to attend school, participate and learn.

Mobilizing positive attitudes and support from families, students, teachers, school leaders, and policy-makers is, therefore, a key pillar to creating inclusive education systems (UNICEF, 2013). Through community mobilization and public advocacy, stakeholders can comprehend disability as a social challenge. Through this perspective, they can see disability as the absence of opportunities for specific groups to develop their full potential and participate in society, rather than looking at disability as the ‘lacking’ of skills or abilities (Save the Children, 2002).

For instance, in a project developed in primary schools in Kenya, inclusion committees were created to increase the number of children with disabilities accessing inclusive primary schools (Elder and Kuja, 2019). The inclusion committees helped raise awareness about disability and inclusive education not only at the schools where the project was being implemented, but also within their communities. Participants indicated having shared information about disability rights and inclusive education with their respective church groups, women’s groups, employers, local community leaders and even with local media outlets. As a result, and thanks in large part to that ‘sensitisation’, the researchers witnessed an ‘influx of new-to-school students with disabilities’ throughout the project’s implementation (Elder and Kuja, 2019: 272).

Community ‘sensitisation’ can also be done through inclusive media outlets, where portrayals of children with disabilities and the importance of inclusive education are mobilized. This can help disseminate positive messages on persons with disabilities, tackle down stereotypes, as well as support inclusive education (UNICEF, 2013). An example of a successful campaign was done in Nepal, with the support of Save the Children UK, where stories of children with disabilities who accessed schools all over the country were publicised and helped raised awareness on their right to education (Save the Children, 2002).

References
Elder, B.C.; Kuja, B. 2019. ‘Going to school for the first time: inclusion committee members increasing the number of students with disabilities in primary schools in Kenya’. In: International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23:3, 261–279. Retrieved from: https://essa-africa.org/node/501?i=d&id=4102

Sæbønes, A.-M.; Berman Bieler, R.; Baboo, N.; Banham, L.; Singal, N.; Howgego, C.; Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo, C.; Riis-Hansen, T. C.; Dansie, G. A. 2015. ‘Towards a disability inclusive education’. Background paper for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, 6-7 July 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1865/Oslo_Ed_Summit_DisabilityInclusive_Ed.pdf

Save the Children. 2002. Schools for All: Including disabled children in education. London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/schools_for_all.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Early childhood education and early interventions 

Research shows that the most cost-effective interventions for children with disabilities, and which will have the greatest impact throughout their entire life, are those performed during their early childhood –from 0 to 6 years old (Save the Children, 2002). The following strategies are recommended:

Ministries of Education should ensure that early-childhood education programmes are inclusive. Initiatives done by NGOs can provide educational planners with a lot of insight. For instance, Save the Children in Armenia supports the government’s policies to create inclusive early childhood education programmes through the development of School-based Early Childhood Development services (Sargsyan, 2016).

Ministries of Education, in cooperation with teacher training institutes, should ensure that teachers in charge of early childhood education programmes are adequately trained and equipped with screening tools to allow them to identify children’s difficulties and disabilities, as well as those at risk of disability. After such intervention, the school, in cooperation with relevant ministries, can provide from the onset appropriate support treatment –especially for impairments which can be prevented– and assistive devices. For example, since 1994 India trains and equips teachers to screen for visual impairments in schools (Rohwerder, 2017).

Ministries of Education must ensure that the screening tools being used at schools are effective. ‘Appropriate screening tools must be quick; low cost; acceptable to the community; easy to use by grass root level workers; and have high specificity and sensitivity’ (Robertson et al, 2012, cited by Rohwerder, 2017: 2). After the screening in-depth assessment, specific follow-up of actions should be ensured (UNICEF, 2013). Although teachers provide the first phase of the screening, it is necessary to coordinate actions with other sectors, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health, to put in place a wide-ranging system and provide adequate responses (Rohwerder, 2017). Along with such measures, some recommended strategies are to ‘include a mapping of the available services, the development of referral protocols and the preparation of informative materials for families on how to adjust children’s surroundings to enhance functioning and participation in home and community life’ (UNICEF, 2013: 19). Families’ and communities’ involvement and understanding of screening programmes are of utmost importance.

Research shows that the most cost-effective interventions for children with disabilities, and which will have the greatest impact throughout their entire life, are those performed during their early childhood –from 0 to 6 years old (Save the Children, 2002). The following strategies are recommended:

Ministries of Education should ensure that early-childhood education programmes are inclusive. Initiatives done by NGOs can provide educational planners with a lot of insight. For instance, Save the Children in Armenia supports the government’s policies to create inclusive early childhood education programmes through the development of School-based Early Childhood Development services (Sargsyan, 2016).

Ministries of Education, in cooperation with teacher training institutes, should ensure that teachers in charge of early childhood education programmes are adequately trained and equipped with screening tools to allow them to identify children’s difficulties and disabilities, as well as those at risk of disability. After such intervention, the school, in cooperation with relevant ministries, can provide from the onset appropriate support treatment –especially for impairments which can be prevented– and assistive devices. For example, since 1994 India trains and equips teachers to screen for visual impairments in schools (Rohwerder, 2017).

Ministries of Education must ensure that the screening tools being used at schools are effective. ‘Appropriate screening tools must be quick; low cost; acceptable to the community; easy to use by grass root level workers; and have high specificity and sensitivity’ (Robertson et al, 2012, cited by Rohwerder, 2017: 2). After the screening in-depth assessment, specific follow-up of actions should be ensured (UNICEF, 2013). Although teachers provide the first phase of the screening, it is necessary to coordinate actions with other sectors, such as the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Ministry of Health, to put in place a wide-ranging system and provide adequate responses (Rohwerder, 2017). Along with such measures, some recommended strategies are to ‘include a mapping of the available services, the development of referral protocols and the preparation of informative materials for families on how to adjust children’s surroundings to enhance functioning and participation in home and community life’ (UNICEF, 2013: 19). Families’ and communities’ involvement and understanding of screening programmes are of utmost importance.

* For more on this subject, consult Policy page School readiness.

References
AbleChildAfrica. n.d. Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre. Accessed 17 July 2019: https://www.ablechildafrica.org/our-partners/littlerock-partner/

EDT (Education Development Trust); UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2016. Eastern and Southern Africa regional study on the fulfilment of the right to education of children with disabilities. Reading: EDT. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/esaro/Regional-children-with-disabilities-UNICEF-EDT-2016.pdf

Rohwerder, B. 2017. Impact of childhood screening for disability/impairment on education and learning. K4D Helpdesk Report 219. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies. Retrieved from: https://learningportal.iiep.unesco.org/en/library/impact-of-childhood-screening-for-disability-impairment-on-education-and-learning

Sæbønes, A.-M.; Berman Bieler, R.; Baboo, N.; Banham, L.; Singal, N.; Howgego, C.; Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo, C.; Riis-Hansen, T. C.; Dansie, G. A. 2015. ‘Towards a disability inclusive education’. Background paper for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, 6-7 July 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1865/Oslo_Ed_Summit_DisabilityInclusive_Ed.pdf

Sargsyan, I. 2016. Inclusive Early Childhood Development in Armenia. Yerevan: Save the Children. Retrieved from: https://www.easpd.eu/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/Conferences/ Chisinau/presentations/workshop_2_save_the_children_armenia.pdf

Save the Children. 2002. Schools for All: Including disabled children in education. London: Save the Children. Retrieved from: http://www.eenet.org.uk/resources/docs/schools_for_all.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Make schools as well as learning and teaching material accessible

All education facilities should be accessible. Article 4 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) calls upon the States to conceive universally designed facilities and develop minimum standards to ensure that facilities are accessible (UN General Assembly, 2007). It is thus recommended that governments develop standards and guidelines to ensure that their education infrastructure –and other public spaces– are accessible to all children and individuals (UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report, 2018). For example, the Department of Basic Education in South Africa, based on the principles of Universal Design, developed a legally binding set of norms and standards for all public schools in 2013 (UNESCO-Global Monitoring Report, 2018).

It is essential for governments to monitor the compliance of infrastructure with the aforementioned standards. To do this, a recommended strategy is to include information concerning school’s accessibility through the EMIS (e.g. the Child Functioning Module (CFM) can be used for this purpose).

* For more specific policy recommendations, consult the Policy page School physical infrastructure.

In addition, decision-makers, planners, school leaders, teachers, and other pertinent stakeholders, should:

References
Sæbønes, A.-M.; Berman Bieler, R.; Baboo, N.; Banham, L.; Singal, N.; Howgego, C.; Vuyiswa McClain-Nhlapo, C.; Riis-Hansen, T. C.; Dansie, G. A. 2015. ‘Towards a disability inclusive education’. Background paper for the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, 6-7 July 2015. Retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1865/Oslo_Ed_Summit_DisabilityInclusive_Ed.pdf

UN General Assembly. 2007. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly. A/RES/61/106. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/convention/convoptprot-e.pdf 

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. 2016. Global Education Monitoring Report 2016: Education for people and planet: Creating Sustainable Futures for All. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000245752

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. 2018. GEM Report summary on disabilities and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/ 48223/pf0000265353

UNICEF Data (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2018. Child Functioning. Accessed 17 July 2019: https://data.unicef.org/topic/child-disability/module-on-child-functioning/

Decreasing distance to school

School distance can affect children with disabilities’ attendance in schools and could eventually lead to drop-out.

*For specific policy recommendations consult the general section of the present Policy page.

Provide a safe and welcoming school environment

In order to include children with disabilities in mainstream schools, educational planners, school leaders, teachers, students, parents, and community members should collaborate in creating a safe, welcoming, and supportive school climate.

*For policy recommendations consult the general section of the present Policy page, as well as the Policy page School climate.

Other policy options

Conditional cash transfers

Supporting families of children with disabilities is very important as they face higher costs of living. For instance, families with children with disabilities have an additional cost of life which ranges from 9 percent in Viet Nam to 69 percent in the United Kingdom (UNICEF, 2013). Cash transfer programmes in this context is a recommended policy option, nonetheless, routine monitoring and evaluation of the transfers’ effects on children’s educational achievements, among others, is key to ensure that the objectives are being attained (UNICEF, 2013).

References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Flexible delivery modes

An inclusive education system requires a flexible approach regarding school organization as well as teaching and learning processes (UNICEF, 2013). More than accommodating the school schedules, an inclusive school must adapt to the particular learning needs of children with disabilities. This can be done by providing the appropriate adaptations to the curriculumclassroom practices, learning material, learning assessments, among others.

* For specific policy recommendations consult the following Policy pages: Curriculum, Classroom practices, Availability and content of textbooks, Student learning assessments, and Individual learning needs.

References
UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2013. The State of the World’s Children 2013: Children with Disabilities – Executive Summary. New York: UNICEF. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/SWCR2013_ENG_Lo_res_24_Apr_2013.pdf

Flexible learning strategies/alternative learning programmes

Building inclusive education systems is a process and thus requires a gradual transition from specialized or integrated approaches (UNESCO, 2015a). Decision-makers must keep in mind that while it is necessary to move towards more inclusionary practices, in specific cases, for certain children, attending specialized or integrated settings might be recommended. Throughout such transition, hybrid policies including aspects of inclusive, integrated, and special education can be recognized all together. For example, during IIEP’s and UNICEF’s Technical Round Table: Inclusion of children with disabilities in education sector planning in French-speaking Africa, held in July 2019 in Paris, participant countries clearly illustrated that while their final goal is to develop an inclusive education system, many among them still have aspects regarding the special and integrated approach throughout their policy and legal framework. Another example is the case of Viet Nam where the 2010 Disability Law states that all mainstream settings must be inclusive and thus a transition from specialized schools must be done, yet the Education Strategy from 2011-2020 granted more investment to specialized centres (UNESCO, 2015a).

Ministries of Education and all relevant stakeholders –such as NGOs, Disabled Peoples’ Organisations (DPOs), families, communities, school leaders– must work together to ensure that while the gradual process towards inclusive mainstream settings becomes operational, alternative learning programmes are reaching out and answering to the needs of all children with disabilities. 

References
IIEP-UNESCO. 2019. Technical Round Table: Inclusion of children with disabilities in education sector planning in French-speaking Africa. Paris: IIEP-UNESCO. [Unpublished document]. 

Sperling, G.B; Winthrop, R.; Kwauk, C. 2016. What works in girl’s education: Evidence for the World’s Best Investment. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/whatworksingirlseducation 1.pdf

UNESCO-Global Education Monitoring Report. n.d. GEM Report summary on disabilities and education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/sites/gem-report/files/GAW2014-Facts-Figures-gmr_0.pdf.pdf

UNESCO. 2015a. Education for All 2000-2015: Achievements and challenges. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002322/232205e.pdf

Open and Distance Learning

Whenever Open and Distance Learning opportunities are offered to children, Ministries of Education and all relevant stakeholders involved must ensure that they are inclusive, so that all children, including children with disabilities, can easily access them and thus benefit from the same educational opportunities.

* For a specific policy guide regarding inclusive ICTs consult UNESCO; UNESCO; European Agency for Special Needs and inclusive Education; G3ict. 2014.

References
UNESCO; European Agency for Special Needs and inclusive Education; G3ict. 2014. Model Policy for Inclusive ICTs in Education for Persons with Disabilities. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000227229?posInSet=1&queryId=af22a9ad-f5dd-42f0-aaae-c59bdb44da2b

Policies for displaced populations and host communities

Promising policy options

Respecting the migrants’ religious and cultural rights 

There is no single approach to respecting religious and cultural rights in education systems. Separate schooling systems for different religions or languages can be discriminative against marginalised groups of children if the schools are afforded inequitable funding and status. They can also exclude and marginalise children from educational and employment opportunities. Conversely, the imposition of a uniform schooling system that takes no account of minority cultures and religions can serve to oppress and undermine children from those communities and contribute to educational failure and high drop-out/push-out rates (UNESCO and UNICEF 2007). Thus, it is essential to acknowledge the importance of migrants’ religious and cultural rights, and conceive inclusive education systems which welcome diversity.

References
UNESCO; UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

Promoting health for the children  

Governments should ensure adequate health care from the prenatal period and the first critical years of life, so that displaced children are able to develop appropriately and are ready for school. They should also entitled to protection from disorders or neglect that will impair their intellectual development –for example, lack of iodine or Vitamin A in the diet negatively affects cognitive development. In this sense, schools can play a key role in providing essential health services to displaced children, integrating their learning with other essential services, particularly in communities where the social and economic conditions threaten children’s well-being.

It then becomes imperative for schools to provide a venue where displaced children can receive food, nutrition, health checks, deworming, micronutrient supplementation, malaria prevention, and screening for visual and hearing impairments. Special attention should be given those who are orphans, who are made vulnerable by AIDS as well as those living in highly violent situations.

Schools can also contribute by listening to and detecting problems identified by displaced children and referring them to appropriate services, either within or outside the school. In this way, they can serve as part of the child protection system through monitoring attendance and children’s physical and emotional well-being.

Strong collaboration will be needed with health providers to explore the most effective models for the development of integrated services. Attention will need to be given to new methods of linking schools with other service providers and new ways of staffing and organising schools, as well as innovative approaches to financing and managing them. By becoming centres for community participation, schools and early learning centres can work more effectively in partnership with parents and other community members.

References
UNESCO; UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).  2015. For every child a fair chance: the promise of equity. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/For_every_child_a_fair_chance.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012. Integrated Social Protection Systems: Enhancing Equity for Children. UNICEF Social Protection Strategic Framework. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/UNICEF_Social_Protection_Strategic_Framework_full_doc_std.pdf

UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees). 2003. Education: Field guidelines. Retrieved from: https://www.unhcr.org/40586bd34.pdf

Schooling models 

Educational segregation has been found to contribute to polarised education systems and inequality in students’ attendance to school and educational outcomes. It is argued that segregated schools limit the probability that a migrant child will continue to secondary education (Barbara et al, n.d). Thus, migrant children should be welcomed in the formal education system. Various models of schooling exist, they should all be assessed having the needs of displaced populations in mind:

  • School catchment areas: in this system, students are assigned to a local school in their neighbourhood. This kind ends up representing the residential patterns in the school composition, the belief is that schools located in more affluent and expensive areas are of better quality. Since migrant families are often underrepresented in these areas, they do not have access to these schools.
  • School choice: in a free-choice model, native upper- and middle-class families are usually the first to fill the better schools because they are well-informed and more mobile. Migrant parents may lack the requisite knowledge of the host country’s educational system, the language competence, or the resources to select the most appropriate school for their children (Dumčius et al. 2013 as cited by Barbara et al). Migrant parents are less likely than native parents to move their children from schools with a large proportion of migrant children (Nusche 2009; Dumčius et al. 2013 as cited by Baraba et al.). Therefore, research suggests that classrooms with a socio-economic mix environment would be a good step forward in ensuring better educational attainment among migrant children.
  • Tracking and ability grouping: This approach streams students according to their perceived intellectual ability. Therefore, the curricula and teaching practices are then adapted according to the specific needs, abilities, and pace of learning of different groups. Migrant students in this education system tend to be tracked into groups with lower curricular standards and lower average performance levels. Which could hamper with the learning experience of the students who are streamed into the lowest tracks, leading in many cases to lower attendance rates.

Even though the model of schooling will be chosen by the host country, schools should be adapted to migrant’s needs, to build a welcoming and inclusive environment. Overall, respecting the right to education of migrants by ensuring them a place in the official education system is of key importance.

References
Janta, B.; Harte, E. 2016. Education of migrant children. Education policy responses for the inclusion of migrant children in Europe. Published by RAND Europe. Retrieved from: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR1600/RR1655/RAND_RR1655.pdf

Brind, T.; Harper, C.; Karen, M. 2008. Education for migrant, minority and marginalised children in Europe. Open Society Foundations, 31 January. Retrieved from: https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/sites/default/files/review_20080131.pdf

Eurydice. 2004. Integrating Immigrant Children into Schools in Europe. Brussels: Eurydice. Retrieved from: http://www.indire.it/lucabas/lkmw_file/eurydice/Integrating_immigrant_children_2004_EN.pdf

Eurydice. 2009. Integrating immigrant children into schools in Europe: Measures to foster communication with immigrant families and heritage language teaching for immigrant children. Brussels: Eurydice. Retrieved from:  http://www.nefmi.gov.hu/europai-unio-oktatas/eurydice/integrating-immigrant

Nusche, D. 2009. What Works in Migrant Education? A Review of Evidence and Policy Options. OECD. Education Working Papers 22. OECD Publishing. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/227131784531

Rimantas, D.; Siarova. H.; Nicaise, I.; Huttova, J.; Balčaitė, I. 2013. Study on educational support for newly arrived migrant children. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Retrieved from : https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/96c97b6b-a31b-4d94-a22a-14c0859a8bea

Policies for minority populations

Promising policy options

Attendance and retention strategies

To ensure high attendance and retention rates for minority populations, the following strategies are recommended:

  • Provide professional development training for staff to raise their awareness of and sensitivity to the history, culture, contemporary lifestyle and enduring characteristics of their Indigenous or minority students.  
  • Recognise the benefits of an explicit teaching/learning approach and early intervention strategies to ensure the adequate acquisition of literacy skills in the early years of schooling.
  • Acknowledge Indigenous patterns of discourse, minimising misunderstandings between teacher and student in the classroom.
  • Recognise the importance of focusing on the learning needs of the individual student, and the use of teaching strategies that match those needs.
  • Take into account the value of the students’ cultural background and the skills and knowledge which they bring with them into the classroom.
  • Use a whole-school approach based on a commitment to providing successful learning experiences and outcomes for all students.
  • Provide a safe, secure school environment, characterised by good teacher/student relationships, which is free from racism and is welcoming to Indigenous students, parents and community members.
  • Involve Indigenous teaching personnel, parents and community members in all aspects of the schooling process from initial planning to implementation and delivery of programs, so as to develop Indigenous ownership of educational programs.
  • Empower students by allowing them to be involved in making real decisions with respect to the learning process through the planning of the learning context in collaboration with teaching staff.
References
Bourke C J, Rigby, K & Burden J 2000. Better practice in school attendance: Improving the school attendance of Indigenous students. Melbourne: Report prepared for the Commonwealth Department of Education Training and Youth Affairs by Monash University.

Campbell D & Wright J 2005. Rethinking welfare school attendance policies. Social Service Review, 79:2–28

UNESCO. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2015. For every child a fair chance: the promise of equity. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/For_every_child_a_fair_chance.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012. Integrated Social Protection Systems: Enhancing Equity for Children. UNICEF Social Protection Strategic Framework. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/UNICEF_Social_Protection_Strategic_Framework_full_doc_std.pdf

Improve teacher-student relationship

A particular school-based issue of importance, and one highlighted by Boulden (2006), is teacher quality. Good teacher/student relationships are fundamental to a positive learning experience and teachers must be aware of and respect the cultural heritage of their Indigenous students. The curriculum must also reflect an appreciation of Indigenous history and the communicative styles that are a part of Indigenous cultures.

However, the best curriculum taught by the most capable and dedicated teachers would not have any effect on students who do not attend school regularly. Therefore, implementing strategies to ensure regular attendance of children belonging to minority populations is of key importance (see below).

References
Boulden K 2006. The school attendance of Indigenous students: A literature review. Canberra: DECS Aboriginal Strategy 2005–2010. Retrieved from:  http://www.decs.sa.gov.au/docs/documents/1/DecsAboriginalStrategy2-1.pdf

DEST (Department of Education, Science and Training) 2003. National report to Parliament on Indigenous education and training, 2002. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.

Co-relate attendance issues with student well-being

To fully implement the school’s policy and procedures for improving attendance, the following can be taken into consideration:

  • advertise the position and employ a Senior Cultural Advisor;
  • assist in the development of attendance plans to get children to school;
  • provide regular visual graphs of attendance to attendance monitors;
  • use individual graphs to work with ‘problem cases’ through teacher and school attendance team;
  • facilitate home visits;
  • follow through with reporting procedures and engage with external agencies to assist attendance;
  • promote family meetings;
  • investigate alternative curriculum for students with poor attendance; and
  • involve the School Council in attendance decisions and strategies.
References
UNESCO. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2015. For every child a fair chance: the promise of equity. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/For_every_child_a_fair_chance.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012. Integrated Social Protection Systems: Enhancing Equity for Children. UNICEF Social Protection Strategic Framework. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/UNICEF_Social_Protection_Strategic_Framework_full_doc_std.pdf

Identify and eliminate discrimination and providing a safe environment

States should undertake a review of existing legislation to ensure that no direct or indirect discrimination in the law impedes the right to education for all children. They should also ensure equitable levels of funding, quality, access, teachers’ qualifications for all schools, and implement the elimination of imposed racial segregation in schools.

States should also introduce minimum health and safety standards relating to all aspects of the learning environment. Schools should provide an appropriate quality of buildings and ensure safe water and appropriate sanitation facilities for both girls and boys. Cultural sensitivity and local customs must also be considered.

References
The Abidjan Principles. 2019. The Abidjan Principles on the human rights obligations of States to provide public education and to regulate private involvement in education. Adopted on 13 February 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.abidjanprinciples.org/en/principles/overview

UNESCO; UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).  2007.  A Human Rights-Based Approach to Education. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/A_Human_Rights_Based_Approach_to_Education_for_All.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2015. For every child a fair chance: the promise of equity. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/For_every_child_a_fair_chance.pdf

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund). 2012. Integrated Social Protection Systems: Enhancing Equity for Children. UNICEF Social Protection Strategic Framework. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef.org/socialpolicy/files/UNICEF_Social_Protection_Strategic_Framework_full_doc_std.pdf

Monitor and evaluate the integration of students from minority ethnic groups

Local authorities should monitor and evaluate the effectiveness and the level of integration of minority students within schools to understand whether this aspect is affecting their regular attendance to school. The evaluation can be done in multiple ways, such as school self-evaluationcurriculum evaluation on how inclusive it is, multi-level collaboration-based evaluation. For example, in the UK, the local authority monitors and evaluates the effectiveness of support from central staff for students from minority ethnic groups. This is carried out both by tracking the progress of minority ethnic students supported by the Ethnic Minority Achievement team, and by evaluating the quality of additional support for schools.

Methods which would assist in proper evaluation include:

  • teacher assessments of targeted pupils;
  • classroom observations, line management meetings and annual performance, review, and development discussions;
  • feedback from schools on the quality of support provided by Local Authority staff; and
  • training evaluations.
References
King, L. Schielmann, S. 2004. The Challenge of indigenous education: practice and perspectives. Unesco. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000134773

Meijer, C.J.W. 2001. Inclusive Education and Effective Classroom Practices. Odense: European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education. Retrieved from: https://www.european-agency.org/sites/default/files/inclusive-education-and-effective-classroom-practice_IECP-Literature-Review.pdf

UNESCO. 2004. Teacher Education Resource Pack Student materials. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000137881?posInSet=4&queryId=8c276c0b-c4a9-450d-b9c9-96641e8bb69e

UNESCO. 2017aA guide for ensuring inclusion and equity in education. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002482/248254e.pdf

U.S. Department of Justice. 2018. Creating and Sustaining a Positive and Communal School Climate. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/250209.pdf

Policies for OVCs and HIV-affected populations

Promising policy options

Supporting children affected by HIV/AIDS

The following recommendations should be considered:

Promote school policies that specifically support children affected by HIV/AIDS, including prohibiting school officials from excluding children from attending school due to their HIV status (or perceived status), or the status of the child’s family members. Administrative procedures, such as registration, should be re-evaluated, to ensure they do not create barriers for children who do not have family support.

Take immediate measures to address stigma and discrimination within the administration and student body, promoting an environment of tolerance and acceptance. Make sure that the curriculum addresses this stigma, and includes HIV and health education.

Facilitate counselling, education, and support programmes and work in cooperation with NGOs, civil society, and community-based organizations to identify and monitor Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and children affected by HIV/AIDS and provide them with any needed extra assistance.

Increase teacher awareness about individual students’ home circumstances and teacher training on providing support (see the section Increasing schools’ awareness of children’s home circumstances in the general section of the present Policy page).

References
Badcock-Walters, P. 2008. Supporting the educational needs of HIV-positive learners: lessons from Namibia and Tanzania. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0017/001786/178601EB.pdf

Human Rights Watch. 2005. Letting them fail: Government neglect and the right to education for children affected by AIDS. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from: https://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/africa1005/africa1005.pdf

Updated on 2021-06-16

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