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CPRD: Statement by the Group of Friends of Education and Lifelong Learning

Statement by Special Envoy for Children and Equality Affairs Maria Brit Espinoza on behalf of the Group of Friends of Education and Lifelong Learning in the United Nations Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities General Debate, 13 June 2019.

| United Nations Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

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Chair, fellow delegates.

I have the honor to deliver this statement on behalf of the Group of Friends of Education and Lifelong Learning. We take this opportunity to highlight that, more than a decade after the adoption by the international community of the CRPD, initiatives are under way – to ensure the rights to education of persons with disabilities.

The Global Agenda provides two specific targets on disability and education. Target 4.5 aims at ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities. Target 4.a calls for building and upgrading education facilities that are disability sensitive – and providing inclusive learning environments for all.

Today approximately 15 per cent of the world’s population - live with some form of disability. Education, communication and culture are our most valuable tools to empower persons with disabilities worldwide. Persons with disabilities face unique challenges and barriers in all aspects of life.

We cannot fulfil our promise to leave no one behind if we do not meaningfully address these challenges.

We note with concern the persistent challenges that persons with disabilities face in the pursuit of their right to education.

Persons with disabilities are less likely to attend school, less likely to complete primary or secondary education, and as a result, have fewer years of schooling.

This educational disadvantage could lead to increased social exclusion and poverty,    and have long-term implications for their capacity to participate in decent work.

The statistics are grim – almost 50% of children with disabilities are not in school. Data also reveal that women with disabilities are often less likely to reap the benefits of a formal education than disabled men – marginalized not only by their disability but also by their gender.

We are however, heartened by the sustained efforts being made throughout the UN System. To ensure the empowerment and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all spheres of life on an equal basis with others, with an emphasis on inclusive education for children with disabilities.

One important event to be held, on occasion of the 25th anniversary of the World Conference Special Needs Education, and the Salamanca Declaration, is the UNESCO International Forum on Inclusion and Equity in Education in Cali, Colombia in September 2019.

The Forum will discuss strategies to overcome persistent barriers to the right to education for vulnerable and marginalized groups. Including persons with disabilities. It will explore the potential of inclusion in education, in bringing new opportunities in a digitalized and globalized world.

The time for action is now - with technological advances making it easier to empower persons with disabilities. We hope you all have participated in fruitful discussions on how to move this agenda forward during this 12th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD.

Thank you.

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