Every disabled child has the right to an inclusive education2 December 2012 Ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December, Leonard Cheshire Disability is calling on the UK Government to uphold its commitment to primary education for every child worldwide, including children with disabilities. A report published today by Leonard Cheshire Disability called Inclusive Education: a position paper details discrimination and lack of access to primary education for children with disabilities in developing countries. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities the charity is urging UK officials to support a worldwide inclusive education strategy. In many countries attending a local school is the only option for disabled children. But the reality is disabled children are disproportionately excluded, missing out on education’s lifelong benefits such as a better job, economic and social security and more opportunities to be play an active role in society. Today young disabled campaigners in 22 countries in Africa and Asia are hoping to raise awareness through the charity’s Young Voices campaign. Gurston Opar, a Young Voices member, was once a student from Leonard Cheshire Disability’s inclusive education project in Kenya. He said: ‘When I was young, people in my village called me a cow because I had a curved spine. I had trouble going to school because the children and teachers called me names and were afraid to catch my disability.’ Gurston’s father told him about a school called Oriang Primary that was teaching both disabled and non-disabled children through a method called inclusion. He enrolled and soon found himself two good friends, Willis and Isaac. He added: ‘They would help me to carry my books to and from school. Other pupils would help me learn as the teacher would seat us in groups for peer support. As the teachers were so supportive, I never felt fearful to speak my mind and participate in class activities.’ After secondary school Gurston became a musician and started an early childhood education course so that he could learn to teach music in primary schools while working on his musical career. He also continues to campaign for full inclusion through Young Voices. Tanya Barron, international director for Leonard Cheshire Disability, said: ‘Every young person like Gurston has the right to a primary education and this paper demonstrates why inclusive education should be addressed on a world stage. ‘In some Asian countries like India, the concept of inclusive education is still being defined, while other governments such as in Bangladesh and Pakistan do not have a mandate to provide inclusive education. We want this to change. ‘Government and society must recognise the potential of our children to succeed through learning. Until this is achieved millions of young disabled people will not benefit from the equal opportunity they deserve.’
There are Young Voices groups in Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Namibia, Swaziland, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China, Guyana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Canada, Mauritius, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Tanzania and the Philippines. To find out more and Young Voices campaigns and how they are marking the day visit http://youngvoices.lcdisability.org
Media enquiriesPlease contact Theresa Hart on 020 3242 0290 or theresa.hart@LCDisability.org, or Pete Lewis on 020 3242 0265 or pete.lewis@LCDisability.org
Notes to editorsPlease contact the press office for photographs.
About Leonard Cheshire Disability
- Inclusive Education: a position paper by Leonard Cheshire Disability is available to download at www.lcdisability.org/internationalpublications
- Leonard Cheshire Disability supports thousands of disabled people in the UK and works with partner organisations in 54 countries. We campaign for change and provide innovative services that give disabled people the opportunity to live life their way.
- For details of Leonard Cheshire Disability’s work internationally, visit www.LCDisability.org/international
About Young Voices
- Young Voices supports young people with disabilities in Asia, Africa and the Americas to campaign for a fully inclusive society in their countries and around the world. For more information on the Young Voices project, visit http://youngvoices.LCDisability.org/
Events on 2 December
- Young Voices in Harare, Zimbabwe have teamed up with the University of Zimbabwe Disability Resource Centre to host an evening of poetry and song to commemorate the International Day for Persons with Disabilities. The guest of honour will be the permanent secretary in the ministry of higher education.
- In Kenya, Young Voices in Thika will participate in an open day to educate the public about the need for participation of people with disabilities in agriculture as a means for livelihood. Members will sing songs and read poems.
- Young Voices in South Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Guyana and Indonesia are joining disabled people organisations (DPOs) on awareness-raising marches through their home cities.
- Young Voices in Guyana are also appearing on TV and radio shows talking about disability rights and have arranged with one of the major mobile phone networks to send disability awareness messages to all their subscribers on 3 December.
- Young Voices in Ranchi, India are organising an awareness camp to be attended by the state commissioner. In Bhopal, Young Voices are participating in a state-run sports day.
- In Malaysia and Indonesia Young Voices musicians who had participated in Leonard Cheshire Disability’s music training workshop are organising recitals to showcase their abilities and raise awareness among the local community and invited government officials.