How Does Educational Inclusion for Children with Disabilities Relate to Financial Inclusion?

> Posted by Adriana Magdas
Why is educational inclusion for children with disabilities so essential to financial inclusion?
The answer to that question came to me one day while I was browsing the BBC News. A headline caught my attention: “Disabled Children Excluded from Education.”  That article and a bit more research revealed statistics on the extent of the exclusion from education faced by children with disabilities. Among the facts I learned:

The statistics I gathered show that children with disabilities are disproportionately excluded from education, a human right that enables them to be more competitive and access a wider range of future income-generating opportunities. Since over 80 percent of the 785 million people with disabilities worldwide live in developing countries (Enable/United Nations), it’s obvious that most of these children with disabilities will face many hardships and obstacles to earning a decent income when they mature.
So to return to the question, why, indeed, is educational inclusion for children with disabilities key to financial inclusion?
A 2011 Center for Financial Inclusion survey of industry professionals identified financial education as the number one opportunity to financial inclusion, and limited financial literacy as the number one obstacle to financial inclusion. Basic education is most often a necessary step toward financial literacy, or at least a catalyst that permits MFI clients, in particular, to understand the products available to them (as well as the risks and responsibilities associated with using them). This deeper understanding is necessary for a safer industry where clients can maximize the opportunities derived from having access to financial services.
As the industry works to extend the reach of financial services and include all those who can use them, it’s necessary to stress the importance of education for all, especially children with disabilities. Current statistics show that less than one percent of MFI clients are persons with disabilities (Enable/United Nations). This makes it painfully clear that as a group, persons with disabilities are already disproportionately excluded from accessing financial services. To raise this percentage, many changes have to take place.  Educational inclusion is an important step in ensuring that as these changes happen, persons with disabilities can benefit from them as much as possible.
It’s necessary to take action to guarantee that children with disabilities aren’t denied their basic human right to education, and to ensure that policies and practices are in place that include them socially, economically, and educationally from their youth.
Image credit: Tony Cassidy
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