New global UNICEF paper highlights major disparities in distribution of public education spending worldwide

While Indonesia has achieved near universal access to primary education, 3 in 10 children with disabilities have never been to school

20 January 2020
Farhan playing game
UNICEF Indonesia/2019/Fauzan Ijazah
Farhan in the “Treasure Hunt” Game

A new global UNICEF paper released today highlights how major disparities in the distribution of public education spending worldwide have an adverse impact on attendance, enrolment and learning for the children that need the most support.

The paper Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children shows that limited and unequally distributed funding results in large class sizes, poorly trained teachers, lack of education materials and poor school infrastructure.

In Indonesia, challenges to inclusive education include insufficient training for teachers, incomplete data on children with disabilities, especially those who are out of school, and attitudes of caregivers who believe their children will not benefit to the same extent as their peers without disabilities. Recent data from a household survey (SUSENAS 2018) indicates that in Indonesia close to 3 in 10 children with disabilities have never been to school. Currently, nearly 140,000 children aged 7-18 years with disabilities are out of school.

Even when enrolled in school, children with disabilities show significant gaps in educational attainment. Only 56 per cent of children with disabilities finish primary school, compared to 95 per cent of children without disabilities. The gap continues through higher education levels, with only 26 per cent of children with disabilities having completed upper secondary school compared with 62 per cent of children without disabilities.

“Children with disabilities continue to miss out on the critical educational opportunities they need to reach their full potential and overcome the barriers to their inclusion,” said Debora Comini, UNICEF Representative. “Without a more inclusive education system, there is little prospect they will learn the knowledge and skills to thrive and contribute to a more prosperous and dynamic society.”

For many, education for children with disabilities is narrowly defined as placing them in special needs schools, rather than including them in mainstream schools. In most cases, inclusive education should allow children with disabilities to go to the nearest mainstream school with peers in their community, because interrupting a child normal development may have more severe consequences than the disabilities itself.

UNICEF highlights five changes that must be achieved to protect the right to education for all children and provide sufficient support for children with disabilities:

  • Greater understanding and commitment to inclusive education at all levels, demonstrated by regulation and policy establishing the right of all children to education, with an explicit mention of children with disabilities, and the allocation of equitable human and financial resources.
  • Inclusive education is explicitly stated as a key area for professional development for teachers, principals and school supervisors.
  • Institutionalized procedures for safeguarding, anti-bullying, anti-abuse and ensuring child protection are available in schools.
  • Effective and proven models of inclusive education are available and replicated.
  • Positive changes in the attitude of policy makers, service providers, parents, and society towards the fulfilment of rights of children with disabilities.

Despite a significant increase in school enrolments over the past decade, approximately 4.2 million children aged 7-18 are out of school and large socioeconomic and geographical disparities still exist. More attention needs to be given to these children to achieve the goal of inclusive and equitable quality education for all set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“When all children – regardless of their gender, ethnicity, background or circumstances – benefit, we all benefit. This is especially critical at a time when Indonesia is prioritising its development of human capital to compete globally in the 21st century.”

* Based on Indonesia Government data: SUSENAS 2018

Media Contacts

Kinanti Pinta Karana
Communications Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia
Tel: +62 8158805842

Multimedia content

A teacher leads the students during an arts and crafts activity
The teachers at the school participated in two trainings led by 1in11 partners to better involve children with disabilities.


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