Tag Archives: Norway

Michael Fuentespina: the hearing-impaired medic

In a dinner held in held in Etobicoke, Ontario, a member of the Canadian Army and Recipient of the order of Military Merit by the Canadian Government has delivered the 2018 Apolinario Mabini Memorial Lecture of the Dinner of Hope.

He is Chief Warrant Officer Michael Fuentespina, a medic of the Canadian Armed Forces Health Services Group of the Royal Canadian Air Force deployed in Afghanistan. He has served in seven countries (Norway, Germany, United Kingdom, France, United States, Afghanistan, and Bosnia) and received the NATO Medal for Former Yugoslavia, Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal, Canadian Decoration, Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, General Campaign Star – Afghanistan, and the Member of the Order of Military Merit. He has also participated in the 2016 Invictus Games held in Florida and in the 2017 Invictus Games held in Toronto as a member of Team Canada for the Men’s Road Cycling.

But the Makati native who just moved to Winnipeg when he was two years old has followed a bomb attack during his “tour of duty” as a member of the Counter-IED’s Advisory Response Team during the War in Afghanistan in 2008. He lost his hearing then and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) nine years after.

“When I witnessed the death and destruction in Afghanistan, I realized that there is that very real possibility that I may not come back or may be grievously injured and, at the same time, I saw what Canada was doing to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves – it was then that this job which became a profession has now transitioned into a calling,” he was quoted saying in a report.

To date, Officer Fuentespina is assigned in Ottawa as advisor for all Reserve Medical non-commissioned members of the CAF responsible for the development and implementation of policies related to professional development, training and education.

 “Disability or not, we live in a great country that provides endless opportunities if you go out and seek them. Just strive to do your best in an ethical manner and great opportunities will come to you.” ~ Michael Fuentespina

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Michael Chow

Turning Four!

Not everyone is still willing to give persons with disabilities a chance four years after The PWD Forum came about.

In Indonesia for instance, disability is still regarded as a punishment from God. PWDs must be exorcised, tied up at the back of the house (dipasung), confined to a small hut in the backyard, or tied at the wrists and ankles to a tree or heavy log. Disability is also seen as a matter of fate so there is little empathy for PWDs for whom ‘nothing can be done’.

As such, PWDs are excluded from most governments’ planning and support. In Bhutan in particular, its educational policy lack inclusive policy guidelines resulting in unequal opportunities.  Taiwan, on the other hand, has only programs for PWDs with “mild” conditions and the curricula just followed what is being taught in preschool classes.

In South Africa, teachers lack skills and knowledge. In South Korea, teachers know no culturally relevant curricula. In Malaysia, teachers are unprepared in terms of emotional acceptance and technical skills.

It is no wonder then that PWDs are still berated when seeking employment or at work; employers would definitely incur costs from hiring PWDs. Educating them alongside non-PWDs  would not be an easy feat especially that the term ‘inclusion’ itself has no fixed definition even in the western countries from which this concept was realized.

There are also parents who do not understand the meaning of inclusive education till now. Thus, the parents are still anxious with their children attending mainstream schools. Even governments are not sure what the concept really means and how it could be relevant within the local context.

If PWDs and non-PWDs study together, though, there would be no need to build exclusive educational institutions. Adjustment may also come naturally. Maricel Apatan had not been a burden anyway when she was studying a two-year course in Hotel and Restaurant Management in Cagayan de Oro City. She was even hired as a pastry chef at the Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Manila.

A polio victim, Marc Joseph Escora, had managed his training at the Negros Occidental Language and Information Technology Center (NOLITC) in Bacolod City. Blind, Safiya Mundus had graduated from the Eusebio C. Santos Elementary School.

The PWD Forum could just imagine what else could have happened had Arnel Navales Aba, Godfrey Esperanzate Taberna, Emilia Malinowska, Jose Feliciano, and Mohamed Dalo finish school. Townsely Roberts had at The College of the Bahamas with an associate degree in Accounting and Computer Data Processing in 1995. Gary Russell had, too, at the same college with an associate degree in Law and Criminal Justice then at the University of Buckingham for his bachelor’s and master’s.

It was from his blind father that former interior and local government secretary Jesse Robredo learned discipline. Protecting the integrity and honor of one’s family is of highest importance, his father had said, and children are expected to contribute their share in doing that. So Jesse launched the “Fully Abled Nation,” a program seeking to increase the participation of PWDs in the coming 2013 Philippine midterm elections, roughly three months before he died in a plane crash.

“Hopefully, one day, the notion behind “persons with disability” be somehow erased from the world’s vocabulary and usher-in a day when technology, private & public organizations, and the law work together to give each person equal rights and opportunities, regardless of the person’s impediment.” ~ Atty. Mike Gerald C. David

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of Jozelle Tech

2018, for inclusion!

Call it cluster sampling if you may, but the summaries previously conducted on 12 countries in this blog have proven the necessity of inclusive education in the world.

Inclusive education refers to the idea of PWDs and non-PWDs alike studying at the same school. Everyone could lead “regular” lives. Everyone could have a chance to appreciate diversity. Everyone could also learn academic and social skills at their own pace within an appropriate environment.

The inability of a country to implement inclusive education till now cannot really be blamed on its economy. While it is true that money is needed to build schools and provide training, a positive attitude is also necessary to achieve inclusive education.

Take for example Kenya, the 40th poorest country based on the assessment of the International Monetary Fund in its World Economic Outlook Database in October 2016. Poor as it is, it has managed to enact the Kenya Persons with Disabilities Act 2003 and specified a solid framework for the development of a truly inclusive education system in the 2010 Kenyan constitution. It has also signed and ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), believing that PWDs and non-PWDs studying together.

Even Bhutan, the 72nd poorest country in the same list, has  signified its confidence on inclusive education through the frameworks Standards for Inclusive Education, National Education Policy, Individual Education Plan (IEP), and Education Sector Strategy 2020. It has also devoted about seven percent of its gross domestic product to enable free education up to the tenth grade.

Of course, there’s still a challenge; inclusive education here is synonymous to letting girls study. But Bhutan has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to get the idea started. It has also signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the Millennium Development Goals, the Education for All-Dakar Framework for Action (1994), and the Proclamation of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP) Commission on Disability on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities (2008).

Even the “rich” country Norway would like to let PWDs and non-PWDs study together.1 It has already thought of integrating every student into the ordinary school system even before 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain to talk about inclusive education. Norway also legislated the Education Act2, initiated adapted education3, and established the Institute of Education4.

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” ~ Ignacio Estrada

1It is the 182nd poorest country of the 187 assessed.

2Learners in the primary and secondary school have the right to go to their local school.

3This train teachers in adapting to different kinds of learners.

4The institute train SPED teachers.

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of educause

Inclusive Education in Norway

Even before 92 governments and 25 international organizations met in Salamanca, Spain to talk about inclusive education, Norway has already thought of integrating every student into the ordinary school system.

Norway believes in integrating students—with disabilities or none—in ordinary education. In the Norwegian framework presented by Peder Haug, a professor of pedagogy in Høgskolen i Volda and research director in the Research Council of Norway, an inclusive educational environment has been defined to focus on the increasing fellowship among students so that everyone can participate as part of a process of democratization.

Inclusion is the goal of the educational policy of the Norwegian legislation. All learners must have access to kindergartens and common schools of high quality regardless of their background or abilities, and educational institutions must consider and accommodate each individual’s abilities and capacities.

Its Ministry of Education and Research has also observed in 2010-2011 that when learners with special needs are studying amongst other learners, their classmates have learned to approve of all learners the way they are.

Norway aims to change the educational environment—not the learner—through inclusion in schools. In its Education Act, learners in the primary and secondary school have the right to go in their local school. They have the right to receive adapted education, which would require teachers to have skills that can adapt to different kinds of learners. Only if a school can prove that it cannot act on the necessary measures for a certain learner can he or she transfer.

Would-be teachers, on the other hand, are trained at the Institute of Education. They can study a course in special needs education, which includes a module on inclusive education. The “adapted teaching” module consists of managing diversity, adapted teaching, and learning in primary school (1–7) and the professional teacher and diversity in schools (5–10).

At the University of Troms, teacher education is divided into years 1–7 (primary education) and 5–10 (secondary education), focusing on inclusive, participatory, and multicultural education. It has launched “Pro-Ted,” a project with the main purpose of developing a research-based, comprehensive teacher education Bby carrying out systematic experiments and acting as a base for research-based, intensive collaboration.

Norway still persists to promote inclusivity in its schools with high quality special education to this day. The 1990 World Conference on Education for All had called on countries to develop inclusive schools alongside specialist support services and it vowed to do its part.

“Children and young people must have an equal right to education, regardless of where they live, gender, social and cultural background, or any special needs.” ~Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research 

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of kbyram2

Moldova

It’s simple. Persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Moldova just have to use a perforated sheet of thin plastic and—voila!—their votes will be casted.

With the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Moldova has introduced the “sleeve envelope.” It was piloted and tested in a polling station in Chisinau during the 2010 elections and could let those with visual impairments to vote their chosen political party by counting the openings in the sleeve and then marking on the specially designated space.

The UNDP has sponsored 7,000 voting booths and 10,000 ballot boxes to ensure that the upcoming elections would be more inclusive and up-to-date. Even PWDs in wheelchairs would be able to cast their vote in a special booth.

The UNDP was able to do this through its Moldova Democracy Programme funded by the governments of Sweden and Norway (the electoral equipment amounted to $436,000 all in all!). The programme aims to enhance the capacity of the Parliament and the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) in carrying out its main functions such as in bringing gender and human rights aspects into the formal political process.

As of this writing, the programme has helped compile gender-disaggregated data like number of women and men voters, improve access to elections for persons with disabilities, turn CEC an ISO-certified elections management body, and create a valid voter register.

“I was very happy and proud that as a citizen, I can now really vote secretly, that I can express my opinion without the help of any another person, even the most trusted one.” ~ Nicolae Ciobanu

Video taken from the YouTube Channel of the UN Moldova