Inclusive Education

A Haitian boy learns to read in Braille at the St. Vincent School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
A Haitian boy learns to read in Braille at the St. Vincent School for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Promoting Gender Equality

Girls and boys face many barriers to going to school, learning and advancing to employment or higher education. Globally, girls are more likely than boys to never go to school. In 2014, there were 130 million primary and secondary school-age girls out of school worldwide. The majority of these girls are living in crisis- and conflict-affected countries.  Girls living in poverty often face double disadvantages to accessing education and staying in school due to gender-based violence or social norms that  make parents hesitant to enroll their daughters in school.

However the benefits of gender inclusive education have been proven repeatedly. Children of educated mothers are more likely to be healthier children,  and girls with a secondary education  are more likely to delay marriage and pregnancy.  

At USAID we seek to close the gender-gap in education:

  • Over the course of the 2011-2015 strategy we provided basic education programming that reached 20.2 million young women.
  • Over the same time period, we worked with 40 host country governments to implement evidence­-based, sustainable, gender­-sensitive programming in reading instruction.
  • We increased access to education for 2.4 million children and youth (1.1 million female and 1.3 million male) who were previously out-of-school due to crisis or conflict.
  • We improved employment opportunities  for nearly 300,000 women and 311,000 men.
  • Annually we trained an average of 450,000 teachers (220,000 women and 230,000 men).

Let Girls Learn, the U.S. Government Initiative launched in 2015, builds on USAID’s gender-equitable education programming in providing “whole-of-girl” approach that considers the many challenges girls face in the developing world – from encountering gender-based violence, to discriminatory social norms, to unintended or early pregnancy.  Learning from years of experience, USAID’s gender inclusive education programming seeks to ensure education programming meets the individual needs of girls and boys so they can succeed in school and work. 

Disability Inclusive Education

Children with disabilities are often denied the right to quality, inclusive, and equitable education. This results in an over-representation of people with disabilities among the world’s illiterate and economically disadvantaged.

Of the 150 million children with disabilities in the world, an estimated 90 percent are out of school.

True education for all depends upon inclusive education interventions and systems for people with disabilities. All children benefit from Inclusive Education. It allows children (and schools) to:

  • Foster a culture of respect and belonging in schools.
  • Develop individual strengths and talents.
  • Strengthen communities, economies and societies.

USAID works with its partners to ensure inclusive, equitable, and quality education for all children and youth. Here are some examples:

Advancing LGBTI Inclusive Education

At USAID, equal access to foreign aid is not only a matter of human rights, but also critical to holistic, comprehensive and inclusive development. Discrimination faced by sexual and gender minority students in education settings can cause decreased levels of student commitment to school, increased dropout rates, decreased attendance rates, mental and physical health problems, as well as limitations in student investment in their own human capital. As a consequence, LGBTI youth may obtain lower educational outcomes and/or face reduced job and growth opportunities over the course of their lifetime.

The Agency is committed to ensuring that all citizens—no matter who they are or who they love—are equally empowered to secure better lives for themselves and their families. Every student, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity, should have equal access to education without fear of violence or discrimination.


Principles For LGBTI-Inclusive Development

Promoting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex human rights at USAID:

  • Account for country and cultural context
  • Ensure openness and safe space for dialogue
  • Integrate LBGTI issues into USAID’s work
  • Support and mobilize LGBTI communities
  • Build partnerships and create allies and champions.

USAID works to ensure access to education and other social services as well as employment through needs assessments, leadership development, and coordination and integration to ensure development projects reach LGBTI communities.[1]

  • USAID/Nicaragua is also supporting the nascent LGBTI rights movement through an integrated program supported jointly by the offices of Democracy and Governance, Health, and Education, which provides LGBTI civil society organizations with institutional strengthening and technical training.
  • In Kosovo, more than 140 principals have participated in USAID-sponsored trainings on LGBTI rights and inclusion through an annual School Management and Leadership Program. The program aims to increase school directors’ awareness of the challenges faced by LGBTI students and teachers, and their duty to create a safe environment for their students and staff.
  • Purple My School, a USAID and United Nations’ joint initiative in eight countries through “Being LGBTI in Asia,” encourages peers, teachers and parents to become allies of LGBTI students to ensure educational settings are free from bullying and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Through teachers’ facilitation, students discuss issues surrounding homophobia, how to create safe spaces for LGBTI students, and are encouraged to wear, draw, or make something purple.
  • In Rwanda, “Never Again Rwanda” focuses on improving Rwandan youth’s understanding and tolerance of human rights issues faced by marginalized communities – particularly the LGBTI community.

Learn More

Learn More about the importance of ensuring inclusive education for all:

Read more about USAID’s programs:

See how USAID is partnering to make a difference in global education:

Related Sectors of Work 

Last updated: February 03, 2017

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