What is EFA-VI?

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What is EFA-VI?

The Global Campaign on Education for All Children with Visual Impairment (EFA-VI) was launched in 2006, as a partnership of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI) and the World Blind Union (WBU).

The following organisations are now supporting the EFA-VI campaign:

  • CBM (Christoffel-Blindenmission)
  • Francophone Union of the Blind
  • Light for the World
  • The Nippon Foundation
  • The Norwegian Association of the Blind and Partially Sighted
  • ONCE (Organización Nacional de Ciegos Españoles)
  • Perkins School for the Blind
  • The Royal Dutch Visio
  • RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People)
  • Sightsavers
  • Stichting tot Verbetering van het Lot der Blinden, The Netherlands
  • Vision Australia
  • WBU (World Blind Union)

EFA-VI addresses four of the Millennium Development Goals:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  • Achieve universal primary education;
  • Promote gender equality and empower women;
  • Develop a global partnership for development.

The EFA-VI Vision

By 2020 all children with visual impairment will enrol and complete primary education and their educational and social achievement will be on a par with non-disabled children.

EFA-VI’s Mission

The mission of the Education for All Children with Visual Impairment Campaign is threefold:

  • To harness the power of information and communications technology, enabling blind and partially sighted students to participate in mainstream schools alongside their sighted peers, and to acquire the specialist literacy skills they need to make their way in the world;
  • To broker partnerships with relevant global education organisations, assisting them to put disability at the heart of their planning and delivery; and
  • For ICEVI to maintain exemplary programmes, assisting with technical advice, and serving as a catalyst to help other agencies provide access to appropriate education for all visually impaired children and youth.

Context – Why this Campaign is Needed

In April 2000 the World Education Forum adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, entitled Education for All: Meeting our Collective Commitments. This declaration states that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, those in difficult circumstances, and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.”

Despite this declaration and expenditure of considerable sums, in most developing countries education of children with a disability, including those with visual impairment, remains a low priority.

Of the reported 61 million children who are not attending primary school, it is estimated that at least 16 million (1 in 4) are children with disability, of whom 4 million have visual loss.

There are many reasons for this situation, including:

  • General education systems that often fail to include children with impaired vision;
  • An absence of action to mobilise and empower blind persons and their families to become effective advocates;
  • Lack of public policy, or failure to enforce such policies where they exist;
  • Public policies that result in children being placed in custodial care facilities rather than appropriate educational programmes;
  • Severe shortage of trained general and special education human resources;
  • Weak or non-existent early identification and intervention programmes;
  • Insufficient empirical data on programme models that are effective and sustainable within the context of a developing country; and
  • Shortage of affordable and accessible teaching aids, low vision devices, textbooks and new technologies that allow blind and low vision persons to do things that were only a dream just a few decades ago.


1. Building awareness among relevant global organisations of the needs of children with visual impairment

Operational goal: To ensure that the following organisations take account of the needs of children with a disability, and specifically visual impairment, in their work:

International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) – Aims to promote inclusive development that respects the full human rights of every person. This calls for acknowledging diversity, eradicating poverty, and ensuring that all people are fully included and can actively participate in development processes and activities regardless of age, gender, disability, state of health, ethnic origin or any other characteristic.

The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) – Works in developing countries with partners to ensure resources and technical support are in place to build and implement sound education plans.

The Global Campaign for Education (GCE) – A civil society organisation which aims to end the global education crisis. It holds governments to account for their repeated promises to provide Education for All. Its mission is to make sure that governments deliver the free, high-quality public education that is the right of every girl, boy, woman and man.

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) – The leading agency coordinating the activities of governments, development agencies, civil society, and the private sector to reach the EFA goals.

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – The world’s leading children’s charity working with families, communities and governments in more than 190 countries to protect and promote the rights of children and young people. It helps governments to build schools, train teachers and provide textbooks so that every child can get an education.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) – The UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. It focuses on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, including “achieving universal primary education”.

International Disability Alliance (IDA) – A network of global and, since 2007, regional disabled people’s organisations (DPOs). Its aim is to promote the full and effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) worldwide, as well as compliance with the CRPD within the UN system, through the active and coordinated involvement of representative organisations of persons with disabilities at the regional, national and international level.

The World Bank – Not a bank in the ordinary sense but a unique institution with the mission to reduce poverty and support development. Established in 1944, it is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world.

The European Union (EU) – A unique economic and political partnership of 28 European countries with the aim of fostering economic cooperation, in the belief that countries that trade with each other become interdependent and are therefore more likely to avoid conflict.

USAID – An organisation which supports U.S. foreign policy by expanding stable, free societies, creating markets and trade partners for the United States, and fostering good will abroad. One of its nine key aims is to ‘further education’.

AusAID – The Australian Government agency responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid programme.

The achievement of this operational goal will be measured by: Acknowledgement of EFA-VI and the needs of disabled children and those with visual impairment in all of these organisations’ public statements, documents and programmes.

2.The inclusion in National EFA plans and their implementation of the needs of children with visual impairment

Operational goal: National EFA Plans to show how the needs of children with visual impairment will be met to ensure that they are able to access and stay in education on the same terms as non-disabled children.

Achievement of this operational goal will be measured by: The inclusion of EFA-VI components in national plans of education of countries where the EFA-VI campaign is implemented.

3.Capacity-building of teachers and other professionals

Operational goal: Capacity-building of teachers within the focus countries. The campaign will continue to focus on work in four main areas:

  • The development of high quality curricula to prepare special teachers to work with children with visual impairment in mainstream and special schools;
  • Training in the strategies used by blind and partially sighted students for acquiring literacy and accessing the curriculum using information and communications technology;
  • The formulation of country-specific modules on special education for incorporation into general teacher preparation courses;
  • The design of skill-based refresher courses for in-service teachers.

Achievement of this operational goal will be measured by:

  • An increase in the number of teacher training establishments adopting the proposed curricula, including training courses in the use of information and communication technology (ICT);
  • An increase in the number of in-service teachers participating in skill-based refresher courses, including those featuring ICT.

4.The Facilitation of collaboration and networking

ICEVI believes that the key factor in the achievement of EFA-VI is extensive collaboration and networking between relevant organisations, and the incorporation of EFA-VI into the organisations’ strategic objectives in the field of education and disability generally. A key operational goal is therefore to increase the level of collaboration and networking. ICEVI has begun this through increasing the number of partners within ICEVI and the EFA-VI campaign and will build on this success.

Achievement of this operational goal will be measured by:

  • An increase in the number of organisations of and for the blind that are members of ICEVI;
  • An increase in the number of organisations specialising in promoting Education for All that are involved in the EFA-VI campaign and accord it a central place in their work.

5. Formulation of best practice

ICEVI has considerable experience in developing best practice by getting stakeholders involved, including organisations of the blind, teachers, parents, voluntary organisations, funding bodies and government agencies. Best practice includes:

  • Human resource development (teachers and other education professionals);
  • Service delivery;
  • Production of low-cost assistive devices.

Operational goal: Build on this work through EFA-VI and continue to develop best practice through research and collaboration.

Achievement of this operational goal will be measured by:

  • An increase in the number of research projects examining and developing best practice in these areas.

6. Promotion of the use of information and communications technology

To promote the use of ICT to make print-based curricula accessible to blind and partially sighted children and young people, in the requisite languages and at reduced cost.

Achievement of this operational goal will be measured by:

  • The amount of ICT in schools for enabling access to the curriculum for blind and partially sighted children and young people, and the number of teachers trained in its use

7. Strengthening information exchange and marketing

It is vital for the success of the EFA-VI campaign that information about the education of children with visual impairment is accessible to all relevant organisations and agencies. Strengthening the effectiveness of information exchange and ensuring that the Campaign is ‘marketed’ is therefore a key operational goal.

Achievement of this operational goal will be measured by:

  • Attendance at relevant conferences by ICEVI;
  • An increase in the distribution of locally specific materials;
  • Improvement of the website;
  • The amount of accurate and positive press coverage.

Strengthening the ICEVI Network to Deliver EFA-VI

The regional structure is the principal strength and constitutional focus of ICEVI. Though the regional structure is relevant for advocacy, leadership training, etc., the national level is key to the success of the campaign. Central to the achievement of the strategy is the identification of one or two organisations in each country that have a long history of serving persons with visual impairment, and equipping them to become ‘National Resource Centres’ for the campaign. The selection of these centres will be decided on the basis of ten criteria:

  • Recognition for providing educational services for persons with visual impairment;
  • Availability of qualified professionals to guide its activities;
  • Involvement in training and extension activities dealing with visual impairment;
  • Adequacy of space for training programme;
  • Existence of mechanisms to make available low-cost assistive devices;
  • Effective collaboration with organisations of the visually impaired and persons with visual impairment;
  • Clearly defined administrative structure for implementing disability-related services;
  • Availability of technological resources;
  • Preparedness to undertake work for evaluating EFA-VI activities when implemented;
  • Current involvement with international programme and organisations.

Ethiopia, Mozambique, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda, Ecuador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Nepal, El Salvador, India, Fiji, Guatemala, Bolivia, Palestine are involved in the implementation of the campaign. Preparation work is underway in Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Malawi, Tajikistan, Laos, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea to implement the EFA-VI campaign.

Mainstream Education initiatives are also used for expanding the campaign activities beyond these focus countries.