TODAY'S FOCUS IS ON.....
68th Session of the UN General Assembly: Key events and trends in Disability and Development
The High-level Breakfast Meeting on “Disability in the Lifecycle: Investing in Children (23 Sept)” marked the start of a number of disability events that took place during the GA’s high-level weeks. The event, organized by UNICEF with the sponsorship of Mexico and Australia, provided an opportunity to enhance understanding of disability within the lifecycle framework and the importance of increased investment to promote the inclusion of children with disabilities across all sectors. Our Executive Director Anthony Lake emphasized that exclusion faced by children with disabilities arises—not from the intrinsic nature of their disability—but from social discrimination. The panelists, including Mexico’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, also highlighted that neither poverty eradication nor sustained growth can be achieved unless children with disabilities are fully integrated in all aspects of life.
In a similar action-oriented spirit, the UN General Assembly held its first ever High Level Meeting on Disability and Development (HLMDD) (23 September), demanding international action to invest in children with disabilities and to include people with disabilities in the global development agenda. Under the theme “The way forward: a disability inclusive development agenda towards 2015 and beyond”, the HLMDD held a plenary meeting and two consecutive interactive round tables, resulting in the adoption of a concise, action-oriented outcome document.
The momentum generated by the HLMDD set the stage for the second gathering of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities (GPcwd) and a reception convened at UNICEF on 24 September. The event discussed future plans for the partnership, including thematic actions for 2013-2015 to make sure that children with disabilities are present in a post 2015 framework. The day came to an end with a noteworthy reception launching a report “Towards an inclusive and accessible future for all: Voices of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 development framework”, which presents views of persons with disabilities on how to make inclusive development a reality. The reception concluded with a remarkable performance by Nguyen Phuong Anh (Crystal), youth champion on rights for children with disabilities in Viet Nam.
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Universal Education was first operationalized at the World Declaration on Education for All in 1990 and soon followed by the World Conference on Special Needs Education (Salamanca, 1994) where Inclusive Education was first mentioned. The concept of “institutions which include everybody, celebrate differences, support learning, and respond to individual needs” (UNESCO, 1994), was further reinforced at the World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, as the framework for achieving Education for All.
Inclusive Education as defined in the Salamanca Statement promotes the need for nation-states to create schools for ALL children, a notion is central to UNICEF’s commitment to including all children in quality learning.
UNICEF defines quality education as the processes and services that allow every school to work for every child, and enable children to achieve their full potential. Inclusive Education is the means by which UNICEF addresses both access and quality, by responding to the needs of all children and youth through increased participation and reduction of exclusion, and the “conviction that it is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children” (UNESCO, 2009).
Inclusive Education is responsive to student-needs and relevant to their life. Therefore, Inclusive Education is not about teaching the students that can cope with un-responsive educational system. Inclusive Education is the means by which teaching methods, curriculum, staff and pedagogy support and are adapted to the learning of ALL students, including those students who traditional systems have not been able to reach.