Sustained policy interventions can ensure a level-playing field
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), around 15% of the global population, or an estimated 1 billion people, live with disabilities, and 80% of this PwD (Persons with Disabilities) population resides in developing nations. It is also estimated that 6% of India’s population (roughly 72 million) suffers from some form of disability or the other, and notably only around 3-4 million of these are educated.
Without doubt, the disabled represent the world’s largest minority. However, there is a key geographical difference here – 90% of children with disabilities in developing countries like India do not attend schools and are grossly under-represented in higher education, whereas in the developed nations of Europe and the US, the disabled are mainstreamed in education. For example, in the UK, PwDs undergoing higher education are eligible to receive a generous Disabled Students’ Allowance, irrespective of their financial status. In undergraduate courses too, PwDs are provided a number of other monetary benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Income-Related Employment and Support Allowance, Housing Benefit, Tax Credits and Universal Credit.