Interaction on Way Forward for Enhancing Access to Inclusive Education and Assistive Technology for Girls and Young Women with Disabilities.
12th February 2023, Sunday
Access Planet Organization in support of the Disability Rights Fund (DRF) organized an interaction program on the topic- “Way Forward for Enhancing Access to Inclusive Education and Assistive Technology for Girls and Young Women with Disabilities”. This interaction program was organized in Alpha House, Baneshwor, Kathmandu. Honorable Sobita Gautam, a Member of the Parliament was invited as the chief guest in the interaction program along with the presence of around 40 different stakeholders from the education sector and representatives of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs) and other disability rights activists. The main objectives of the program is to share the achievements of the project: “Fostering Access to Inclusive Education and Assistive Technology for Girls and Young Women with Disabilities” that was conducted last year in 2022 A.D. It also aimed to discuss the challenges faced by girls and young women with disabilities in getting an education at the grassroots level and to bring out the issues from the local level to the central level as well as to discuss and decide the way forward on fostering access to inclusive education and assistive technology for girls and young women with disabilities.
The Vice president of Access Planet, Srijana Dhakal welcomed all the participants to the event stating the topic and highlighting the objectives of the interaction program. Serially Jenisha Maharjan, the Program Associate of Access Planet, gave a presentation on the achievements and challenges of the project related to inclusive education and the promotion of access to assistive technology for girls and young women with disabilities.
Afterward, a panel discussion and interaction with the participants were held among experts in the field of education which was moderated by Founder of Acess Planet, Laxmi Nepal. In the panel discussion Sarala Poudel, Director, Education Review Office, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) as a panelist stated that every public school should be monitored on issues such as whether or not scholarships are available to students with disabilities, and the condition of disability-friendly physical structures. She also said that this time they will examine 50 public schools and take all possible steps for the quality education of girls and young women with disabilities.
Narad Prasad Dhamala, Section Officer of the Inclusive Education Department, Center for Education and Human Resource Development (CEHRD) as a panelist informed that Braille books, audiobooks, daisies, pen drives, and radio materials are distributed to the blind and students with disabilities so that they can get education easily. He added that emphasis should be placed on the school admission campaign for people with disabilities. Along with this, educational restrictions should not be applied when enrolling them, at any time and they should be admitted without any biases or difficulties.
Similarly Sunita Nepali from Dang who is a Young Woman with a disability belonging to the Dalit caste shared the various barriers to getting school-level education as a woman with visual impairment, and emphasized that everyone should help as much as possible to raise positive public awareness on the social attitude towards disability and Dalit women in the days to come.
At the same time, speaking as a panelist, Govinda Sedhai, the Chief of the Inclusive Education Department, Curriculum Development Center (CDC), said that the work of creating curriculum materials according to the type of disability for the quality education of students with disabilities has started. And, he also said that they would do their best in this matter in the coming days as well.
Lastly, the commitments were gathered especially from the chief guest of the event, Sobita Gautam, a member of the parliament and from all the panelist. She committed doing her best to include and fully implement other challenges of people with disabilities as it has been one of her topmost priorities during her tenure. Along with these, she also strongly stated that she will raise questions about the inclusivity of the issues and solutions for people with disabilities. Moreover, she also highlighted that she will keep on raising the issues of the rights of the specific community in any events or programs whether in the parliament or at the grassroots level as a parliamentary member. The chief guest also stressed the point to build an inclusive community, we need to work on focusing on the holistic approach to solving the issues at all levels so she will keep those things in mind while stating her points during her tenure.
Thus, she expressed herself by mentioning that no one should be deprived of education as education is considered self-confidence for all especially people with disabilities as per her own personal experiences. Adding on, she also mentioned that education and skills should go hand in hand as they would be more fruitful in terms of experiential learning and the growth of a person.
Along with the remarks and commitments from the chief guest, Sugam Bhattarai, General Secretary of the National Federation of Disable Nepal appealed to the participants and guests to take some time and go through the roadmaps and study reports of the organization so that they could have more clear guidelines for future works.
Eventually, Krishna Gahatraj, Program Officer of the Disability Rights Fund (DRF), said that the state and various associations working in the field of disability are working to provide education to people with disabilities in a disability-friendly environment. Similarly, it was emphasized that people with disabilities should be included in education without any discrimination and education should be provided with accessible technology.
The primary outputs of the event are listed in points as follows:
- Reflection of the project under DRF related to education along with their challenges and achievements.
- Communication and delivery of issues from the local level to the central level.
- Discussion about the way forward for Enhancing Access to Inclusive Education and Assistive Technology for Girls and Young Women with Disabilities through the panel discussion and interaction.
- Strengthening of relationship with existing education stakeholders and representatives of OPDs.