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United for Dyslexia: A Call to Advance Educational and Social Inclusion for All

New York, 11 October 2022: At the United Nations Headquarters, UNESCO joined the Permanent Missions of Slovakia, Spain, Ghana, India, Cyprus and the Dominican Republic to the United Nations, as well as UNICEF, DISFAM and OIDEA, in organizing a side event entitled “United for Dyslexia. The discussion aimed at raising awareness and recognition of dyslexia, calling for a wider support from Member States for proclaiming October 8th as International Dyslexia Day by the UN General Assembly.

Dyslexia, a learning disorder with reading disability, is affecting over 10% of the world’s population, posing the risk of causing illiteracy and social exclusion if left improperly treated.  UNESCO upheld the call to action for creating equal and inclusive environments and opportunities to improve the inclusion of dyslexic learners in education and society. 

Mr Eliot Minchenberg, Director of UNESCO New York Office and UNESCO Representative to the UN, advocated for serious attention and targeted efforts to ensure inclusion at all levels for persons with learning differences, including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and dyspraxia. He underlined that the one-size-fits-all educational systems are a major barrier that hinders dyslexic learners to succeed in their studies and careers, therefore calling for a transformation in the philosophy and practice of education through empowering teachers and incorporating relevant technologies. 

Referring to UNESCO’s approaches and solutions, he highlighted UNESCO’s pioneering role in advocating for inclusive education which is crucial for advancing a targeted approach to learners with difficulties. He also recalled the Transforming Education Summit in September which stirred up a global movement stressing the need to build inclusive, safe and healthy schools. Promoting effective actions requires mobilizing multiple stakeholders, including communities, teachers, parents, relevant sectors, non-governmental actors, etc., to jointly work towards transforming educational environments that encourage learning in diverse ways. In this regard, he stressed that UNESCO also works to enhance national capacities to reform education systems, strengthen legal and policy frameworks, and foster partnerships. At last, he urged a renewed collaboration to take leverage the potential of the “Dyslexic Mind” as to advance scientific and cultural progress for humanity.

On this occasion, the Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic to the United Nations, H.E. Ambassador Michal Mlynar appealed to the global community  for maximizing efforts to remove the obstacles to education for children and young people with dyslexia. Their potential to offer distinctive insights into comprehending the world was also highlighted by H.E. Ambassador Agustin Santos Marave, the Permanent Representative of Spain to the UN. 

In her video message, the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen underscored the Union’s commitment to empowering dyslexic individuals through education and research, noting the adoption of “The Pathways to School Success” , including best practices to make the classroom more inclusive. Other interventions featured remarks from representatives of UNICEF, DISFAM and OIDEA, as well as personal stories shared by advocates for dyslexia Georgia Ryan, Jeremy McKane, and Dylan Douglas.

Watch the event here.