National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) a cross-disability, non-profit organization, in collaboration with UNESCO, New Delhi organized a virtual Side-Event on the theme of ‘Inclusive Education’, one of the themes of the Global Disability Summit (GDS 2022).
The goal of the virtual event was to understand the impact of Covid-19 on inclusive education of children with disabilities through a South-Asian perspective. The event also aimed to identify key issues and challenges for inclusive education for students with disabilities in the region with a particular focus on how to ensure equitable access to technology to ensure online education. The discussion centered around sharing best practices in imparting disability inclusive education and suggesting recommendations to formulate a regional mechanism and move towards achieving SDG 4 targets in South Asia.
Joyce Poan, Chief of Section – Education, UNESCO New Delhi stated, “Considering the losses to learning caused due to the continuous shutting down of schools, the impact on the education of students with disabilities has been devastating. If we are to accelerate progress towards SDG 4 and make education truly universal, we must ensure that it is inclusive and equitable”.
At times like this, an ‘inclusive education’ system that includes all and enables equal participation for all who are vulnerable assumes greater significance. The Side Event for GDS 2022, we hope, will give voice to countless students with disabilities as they pursue their education. As we recover from the impact of the pandemic, we must ensure that an Inclusive education should be the yardstick for any rebuilding and re-envisioning of education globally.
The event commenced with welcome remarks by Mr. Arman Ali (Executive Director, NCPEDP), who stated, “The pandemic has pushed us decades behind and it is a critical time to re-think of an inclusive education system that includes all and enables equal participation. The GDS 2022 has given us the opportunity to come together and form a South Asian Regional mechanism to move towards advancing the goal of SDG 4.”
Summarizing the discussion, Ms. Huma Masood, National Programme Officer, Education and Gender, UNESCO New Delhi noted that, “The roadmap to achieve the inclusive education goal necessitates converting commitments to actions. UNESCO is leading Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 globally and is responsible for coordinating the international community to achieve this goal through partnerships, policy guidance, capacity development, monitoring and advocacy. It therefore requires regional collaboration and the engagement of all stakeholders to tackle educational challenges and build systems that are inclusive, equitable and relevant to all learners. In this context one of the recommendations would be to set up or join the existing Consortium of organizations and experts, Institutions for South Asia”.
The speakers for the event included Ms. Salma Mahbub; Founder General Secretary, Protibondhi Nagorik Shangathaner Parishad- Bangladesh, Mr. Pema Chhogyel; Deputy Chief Program Officer- Inclusive and Special Education, Department of School Education, Ministry of Education- Bhutan, Ms. Sruti Mohapatra; Chief Executive-Swabhiman - India, Mr. Ahmed Mohamed; Chairperson, Maldives Association of Persons with Disabilities - Maldives, Mr. Amar Bahadur Timalsina; Global Network Coordinator for IDEA – Nepal.