Tag Archives: Africa

What Lea Sicat Reyes has said

In her column “Insight Avenue,” Lea Sicat Reyes has asked how can disability intervention in the Philippines become accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the country with limited resources and what should be done about it.

Countries like Vietnam, Togo, and India have successful programs in place that cater to children who live with visual and hearing impairments and other physical, cognitive, and behavioral disabilities,” she noted after mentioning the countries with similar context to the Philippines but have effectively addressed disability- related concerns.

“The Philippines can definitely gain valuable insights from their common practices,” she added.

So Reyes suggested pursuing partnerships between the government and civic groups that have the capacity to empower stakeholders. The Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), for instance, has initiated a program in Vietnam that would “provide an integrated effort to teach deaf children sign language at a very young age, helping them to get ready to learn when they enter formal primary school.” It also funded a program on inclusive education for the PWDs in Malawi which “tests innovative methods to raise enrolment among children with disabilities who are not in mainstream schools and also supports the development of an inclusive education policy.”

Throughout the country, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the LAJ Philippines- LEGO funded the creation of the National Centers for Children with Disabilities in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH).

Reyes noted, too, that a community-based approach where intervention is concerned is both practical and sustainable. Parents and families must then have a working understanding of their children’s intervention program. The disability-related concerns in the Global South1 should be studied more since “resources are readily available and systems are already in place to provide maximum support for children with disabilities” in the Global North2.

“We can no longer overlook the need to address the plight of children with disabilities in the Philippines. If we continue to allow these to fester, more and more children will be deprived of a chance to have a better quality of life. The time to act is now.” ~ Lea Sicat Reyes

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of unicefphilippines

1The Global South refers “Third World” (i.e., Africa, Latin America, and the developing countries in Asia), “developing countries,” “less developed countries,” and “less developed regions.”

2The Global North is home to all the members of the G8 (United States of America, Japan, Russia, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, France) and to four of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

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Pushing for the PWDs’ education

Educating persons with disabilities in developing countries such as the Philippines calls for money and resources. As it is, many developing countries’ school budgets cannot already cover all of the mainstream students that need to be taught.

The teachers there also do not have any special needs training1. The schools’ buildings may not be wheelchair-accessible or the PWDs themselves do not even have wheelchairs. The books may not be enough for the sight-impaired students to share with their classmates without disabilities and the hearing-disabled students may not have the hearing aid resources they need.

Some developing countries deem PWDs to be cursed and, therefore, should be avoided. Educating them alongside students without disabilities could, therefore, present a problem for the parents of the latter.

But educating PWDs and non-PWDs together could let those with disabilities in developing countries fully assimilate into the culture of where they are. It is invariably “a way of giving disabled and special needs students2 access to an education and helping them become accepted into society as full, participating members.”

It is said that the greatest percentage of PWDs reside in developing countries; approximately 80% are in Africa, Middle East, Asia, the Caribbean, and Latin America. Some of them are among the countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). This goes without saying that they adhere to inclusion and inclusive education, which is one of the key provisions of the UNCRPD3.

Educating PWDs alongside non-PWDs in developing countries should be considered now so that there will soon come a time that helping PWDs will just come naturally. There would be no need for rules anymore and education for PWDs will cease to be an “unaffordable luxury” or “non-crucial” because of the degree of financial expenditure and human involvement.

Arguably, a lack of education is the greatest disability of all, and these disabled individuals must suffer the deprivations of educational disability along with physical or mental disability.”

1If they do get training, it is based on a special education needs model, where the focus is on separating a PWD from their peers to segregated classes and schools.

2Aside from PWDs, inclusive education also encompasses to heads of households, former child-soldiers, street children, orphans, child prostitutes, and children of war and displacement.

3Article 24 commits State parties to developing an inclusive education system, where disability should not prevent people from successfully participating in the mainstream education system.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the ABS-CBN News

Inclusive Education in Kenya

Aside from the magic its tourism board asserts, Kenya has provided for the rights and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in the country. It has paved the way for the establishment of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities and the National Development Fund for Persons with Disabilities, fining anyone who would offend PWDs with up to twenty thousand shillings or to a year of imprisonment.

The Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has exempted PWDs as well from paying for the recreational facilities owned or operated by the Government. Materials, articles and equipment, including motor vehicles, could also be exempted from import duty, value added tax, demurrage charges, port charges, and any other government levy if they are modified or designed for PWDs.

In the country’s courts, Kenyan PWDs do not have to pay legal fees. The latter—may they be the victim or the accused—have been entitled to free sign language interpretation, Braille services and physical guide assistance.

All television stations in Kenya shall provide for a sign language inset or sub-titles in all newscasts. All persons providing public telephone services shall install and maintain units for persons with either hearing or visual disabilities.

Kenya’s respect for the PWDs in it started as far back as 1980 when it declared the National Year for People with Disabilities. Its Ministry of Education even initiated the Educational Assessments and Resource Services to improve its services for special education students.

Four years after the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 has been passed, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was signed. It was ratified the next year and became the basis for the National Kenyan Constitution in recognizing disability rights.

Locally, Kenya has been helped by the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK) that consists of the Kenya National Association of the Deaf, Kenya Society of the Physically Handicapped, and other organizations. It has appointed a taskforce to review the laws related to PWDs and collect the public views.

Internationally, it has five international organizations to assist PWDs: the Christian Blind Mission (CBM), the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), the Sightsavers, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, and the Leonard Cheshire Disablity.

The CBM Kenya has been working against “blinding trachoma” and aims to eliminate the disease completely by 2019. It was funded by the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust carrying out surgeries, distributing antibiotics, educating communities, and improving environmental conditions to prevent trachoma.

The DREDF, first established in Berkeley, California in 1979, is a legal service center backing up disability rights. It has started the Disability and Media Alliance Project http://d-map.org/ to bring the disability community and the media industry together, and continues to shape the legal and policy strategies needed to promote its vision in the United States and worldwide.

The Sightsavers, on the other hand, believes that 80% of blindness in the world is avoidable. So it has helped the citizens of India, Africa, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Sudan, and Ghana with eye problems.

It has also assisted 13-year-old Flash Odiwuor even though he has another kind of ailment: polio. He was struck down with it and lost the use of both his legs. Only through the Sightsavers’ inclusive education program was he able to go back to school—at the Nyaburi Integrated Primary School, to be exact—along with other Kenyans who can see.

The IFES has more or less the same vision as the DREDF: it aims to empower the underrepresented. But unlike the DREDF that focuses on everything that entails a legal process, the IFES has provided technical assistance to election officials so that everyone can participate in the said political process.

The Leonard Cheshire has pioneered inclusive education strategies for girls with disability in Kenya. It has targeted 2,050 female PWDs in 50 primary schools in the Lake Region.

“I am so happy to be back at school. The headmaster gave me a wheelchair so I can now move around as much as I want.” ~ Flash Odiwuor

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Luke Sniewski

Turning One!

Preposterous it will sound if The PWD Forum would claim a hand on how the welfare of persons with disabilities (PWDs) throughout the world has improved in the last 12 months.

In my home country, various sectors have realized that the disaster risk reduction and management programs currently in place there should be more responsive.

The PWD Forum has written about how necessary these kinds of plans are in the Philippines since the country is almost always plagued by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis last July 14, 2014. It has 726 readers there.

In the place where I am now, a team has been sent to the United Nations to organize a series of events concerning PWDs and highlight the country’s policies.

The PWD Forum has reported how the United Arab Emirates provides an environment conducive for PWDs like Feras and Wael Al Moubayed last October 28, 2014 as well as Kaltham Obaid Bakheet last April 28, 2015. It has 212 viewers there.

Elsewhere, some corporations have called for “an inclusive society” together with the PWDs. Some educational institutions have taught job skills to them, and some politicians have taken it upon themselves to provide assistive devices.

The PWD Forum has been seen in 43 other countries. Among these are the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Lebanon, Germany, Australia, Japan, Jamaica, Belgium, Singapore, Switzerland, Pakistan, member states of the European Union, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Hong Kong, France, Taiwan, New Zealand, Malaysia, South Africa, Jordan, Bhutan, Spain, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey, Thailand, Kenya, Bahamas, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Israel, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Austria, Poland, Vietnam, and Moldova.

Early on, The PWD Forum has wanted special education for all. But after sometime, it began to wonder if what it is advocating for is plausible especially in the third-world countries where PWDs are plenty. It has then thought to compromise: just another kind of special education for non-PWDs if they couldn’t be put together with the PWDs!

But Ashish Goyal didn’t learn numbers in a specialized school. Apolinario Mabini was able to study in two prestigious universities in the Philippines and had even set up a private school on his own. The mother of Tatyana McFadden had still enrolled her daughter in various sports activities even though Tatyana was born with spina bifida.

Special education must really be imparted to everyone then. Even the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has thought so. Disability rates are significantly higher among groups with lower educational attainment among its members, which include 14 countries.

Moreover, the United Nations Development Program found out that 80% of the PWDs in the world live in developing countries. People also spend 8 years of their life span living with disabilities. The aim of The PWD Forum from the start should still hold after all.

 “The PWD Forum aims to increase the awareness of the ‘normal’ people—particularly those in governments—to the true situation of people with disabilities (PWDs). It would just be a plus if there would be PWDs and non-PWDs alike who would join the discussions and/or initiate the conversations themselves.”

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Perkins Vision

Of Young Voices

Proving their abilities beyond their physical incapacities are Angelique Vizorro, Brian Semeniego, Carla dela Cruz, and Daisy Panaligan. They are all members of the Young Voices, a global project of a United Kingdom-based health and welfare group that aims to fight work against poverty and social marginalization through film and music.1

Vizorro has been a part of the National Youth Commission (NYC) Government Internship Program that trained high school and college students alike for employment. She had graduated from STI College-Fairview and knew how to encode data, photocopy, scan, and file documents.

Semeniego has headed the YV-Iloilo Chapter and has represented the country in the workshop conducted by the he Leonard Cheshire Disability (LCD) in Colombo, Sri Lanka last August 2010, and in the National Human Rights Forum led by the Presidential Human Rights Committee in April of the same year. He has hosted the radio program K-Forum before he became the youngest board member of the Alyansa ng May Kapansanang Pinoy (AKAP-PINOY). To date, Semeniego intends to promote better accessibility for PWDs through his civil engineering degree.

Dela Cruz has undeveloped lower limbs. Despite of that, though, she was the one sent to Maryland, USA to study one high school year in 2004. She was the one sent to Ethiopia, Africa to attend a video filming workshop and she was the one of those awarded the Women Achiever of the Year last March 25, 2011. She is a cum laude of BS Education, major in Special Education, from the Trinity University of Asia.

Panaligan is an amputee since birth. She is a ballroom dancer as well, albeit on wheels. She is also an athlete and had won two gold medals and one silver medal in the 6th Asean Paragames in Solo, Indonesia.

1 Worldwide, there are 1200 PWD members of YV to date. They are from 21 countries and ages 16-25 years old. In the Philippines, YV is one of the core programs idealized by the LCD Foundation, involved as it was during the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Video courtesy of the LCD Young Voices