Kirsty Smith, CBM UK

Kirsty Smith, CBM UK

Disabled people are one of the world’s biggest untapped resources, claims a new report by experts in Cambridge.

If more were given access to education, it would bring many countries a huge economic boost, the study says.

The report, co-funded by Cambridge-based international disability charity CBM UK, is based on detailed research into how important education for disabled people is.

It says people with disabilities suffer ‘widespread exclusion as a result of physical, attitudinal, financial and policy barriers.’

Because of that, they are not able to contribute to the economy of the countries they live in, it adds.

In Bangladesh, for example, failure to help disabled people participate in the education system is estimated to lose the economy £137 million, the report said.

The study was carried out for CBM UK and the International Centre for Evidence on Disability, at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

A CMB UK spokeswoman said: “It provides robust evidence to advocate for disability-inclusive international development. Despite the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities being the fastest human rights treaty to be ratified, people with disabilities are still experiencing persistent inequalities on almost all indicators of social, political, cultural and economic participation compared to the rest of the population.

“The costs of exclusion from education may lead to lower employment and earning potential among people with disabilities.

“Not only does this make individuals and their families more vulnerable to poverty, but it can also limit national economic growth.”

Kirsty Smith, chief executive for CBM UK, said: “CBM, along with other leading non-governmental organisations specialising in disability urgently need to persuade decision-makers within governments to take note of the estimated one billion persons with disabilities worldwide.”

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