In the world, “children with disabilities are twice as likely not to go to school”, Manos Antoninis, director of the Global Education Monitoring Report, an independent body of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) which is responsible for analysing the situation of education around the world, said.

At the opening of the international symposium “Ensuring the Right to Inclusive Education for People with Disabilities”, organised by UNESCO, Manos Antoninis welcomed the work being done in Portugal, considering that “it has good examples that should be followed by other countries”.

The work for the inclusion of disabled children in Portugal started about 30 years ago, in 1991, and today “97.5 percent of children and young people with disabilities are in so-called mainstream education”, the minister stressed.

For this mission, the minister attributed the “main role” to teachers and educators as well as to those who structure and implement the training of teachers in inclusion.

Tiago Brandão Rodrigues recalled that today’s times demand increased attention: “Our challenge, as governments, is not only to think about how we cannot leave anyone behind, but also how we can prevent students from leaving education and schools”.

Equal opportunities and social inclusion have been “major challenges in all countries in assessing educational responses to this health crisis,” he acknowledged.

“This pandemic represents an unprecedented challenge for all of us and therefore, more than ever, we need to work side by side in creating innovative policies,” he said.