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UNICEF and Australia team up for children with disabilities: Education is a right for all

CANBERRA, 3 September 2009 - Globally fewer than five percent of children with disabilities are attending school, and in some cases the figure is less than one percent. UNICEF and the Australian Government will partner in a new initiative to change this unacceptable situation.

With Australia’s support, UNICEF will revise its Child Friendly Schools toolkit for education providers to integrate components to make education inclusive and accessible for children with disabilities.

UNICEF will also develop an additional module for education providers, to raise awareness of and target the specific needs of children with disabilities.

 This initiative aims to improve the lives of children with special needs and/or disabilities, through improved access to quality education.

“This is imperative,” Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, Bob McMullan, said. “Every child has a right to education, and the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education can only be truly met if we include children with disability.”

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Hilde F. Johnson stated that children with disabilities are the forgotten children of the world, often hidden away, marginalised, and discriminated against.

“But they have the same basic right to education as everyone else. Promoting quality education to children with special learning needs and disabilities will also empower them, and help them achieve their full potential. We urgently need to correct the wrongs of the past and equip schools, teachers and learners to make their right become a reality. Expanding our Child Friendly Schools modules and tools will enable us to do just that,” Ms. Johnson said.

Mr McMullan and Ms Johnson met in New York on 3 September in a panel discussion organised by Australia about meeting the needs of children and young people through the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

According to the Convention, all children have the right to go to school and cannot be excluded from education because of a disability. Countries are bound to realize this right and ensure the education of children with special needs, foster their participation in society, their sense of dignity and the development of their personality.

For more information please contact:
Tel + 61 (0) 417 680 590

Shimali Senanayake, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 917 265 4516
E-mail: senanayake@unicef.org




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