The U.K. Department for International Development has long prioritized gender parity in its education programs in developing countries. But while it is pushing girls to the forefront, is it sidelining young people with disabilities, certain ethnic groups and youth from religious minorities?
The Global Campaign for Education’s U.K. chapter believes it does.
Poverty is linked to disability, and factors like knowledge only of an ethnic language or living in a remote location can make access to schools difficult for a child. But DfID’s programming doesn’t support these recognized connections, the GCE says in a report published Oct. 24.
In an assessment of 14 DfID operational plans, it found keywords such as “disability” and “linguistic” were mentioned only 40 times.
The GCE is urging DfID to develop a clear strategy that prioritizes children who are marginalized because of their religious, ethnic or linguistic background, or geographic location. The Millennium Development Goals that measure children’s access to education do not consider these factors.
A DfID representative told the Guardian that the U.K. government is committed to helping all poor children receive an education, and that by 2015 — the target goal for the MDGs — it will have supported more than 9 million children.
GCE is not the only one calling for a more inclusive development strategy. Jean-Baptiste Richardier, director general of Handicap International, called for a “vulnerability-based approach” at a panel at last week’s European Development Days and in a video-taped conversation with Devex Editor Rolf Rosenkranz, which we will be publishing in the coming days. Such an approach, Richardier explained, does not focus squarely on just one sector — women, for example — but on all vulnerable groups, including domestic workers and religious minorities.
Amy Lieberman is a Devex correspondent and freelance journalist based in New York, where she has focused her coverage on the United Nations and global health. Her work has appeared in Women's eNews, IRIN, Policy Innovations, Europa Newswire and The New York Observer, among other publications.