A new database launched today by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) captures the severe educational challenges faced by people with disabilities. The database confirms that people with disabilities are less likely to ever go to school, more likely to be out of school and have fewer years of education than people without disabilities. They are far less likely to complete primary or secondary education and possess basic literacy skills, and women with disabilities are less likely to have had a formal education than disabled men – marginalised not only by their disability but also by their gender.

“The database shines a light on an area of critical concern for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4, which demands a quality education for all,” says Silvia Montoya, Director of the UIS. “The SDGs themselves stress the need for equity – for progress that is universal, with nobody left behind. That is why it is so vital to gather, analyse and make the best possible use of data on people who are missing out solely because of their disability.” 

Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the database is accompanied by a detailed background analysis that looks more closely at the findings and the methodological issues around data on disability and education. Both the data and its analysis featured prominently in the most recent UN flagship Disability and Development Report, published in June this year.

The UIS has also released a new study, funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE): The Use of UIS Data and Education Management Information Systems to Monitor Inclusive Education. It reviews the data needed to fully develop the global indicators for monitoring of SDG targets 4.5 (“equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations”) and 4.a (“education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all”). It examines how to increase the availability of data on education for people with disabilities, outlining how global data from the UIS and national data from Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) could be better used to monitor inclusive education. The study was based on an examination of school census forms from 71 low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean and a literature review.