India’s Largest Conference on Inclusive Education to Be Held in Goa
~ Fourth in the series of conference organized by Mumbai based ADAPT will see speakers from 22 countries, both developed and developing ~
Chennai– 15 Feb, 2012: Disability rights and social inclusion in India is expected to get a big shot in the arm with what is slated to be the largest conference of its kinds on inclusive education of the disabled in India called ‘North South Dialogue IV – Implementing Tools of Change For Inclusion’ to be held between 19th to the 23rd of February in Goa. Organized by 40 year old NGO ADAPT (Able Disabled All People Together, formerly the Spastics Society of India), the conference will bring in different stake holders: grass-root workers, professionals, academics, disabled activists, corporate world, government representatives etc, from 22 countries in an event that is expected to have a far reaching impact on the lives of over 100 million disabled Indians that have been excluded by both governmental policy and the society.
“The disabled in India have faced a lot of barriers, mainly systemic – right from the top down where the government has being doing institutionalized discrimination against disability with disabled people being out of everything they program. According to a data from a seminal report jointly done by World Bank and Ministry of Social Justice, over 80% disabled children i.e. around 70-80 million kids in India are out of governmental programs,” said Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson – ADAPT who has also been honored with a Padmashri by the Indian government for her seminal work in education, healthcare and employment of disabled that has led to both social change and legislation favouring the disabled.
Dr. Alur added, “The 100 million people: children youth and families that are out of government services are of the poorest of the poor in the social sector. These are people who are powerless, are in the political wilderness and suffering apathy and indifference due to lack of policy implementation. Even in the small areas we are mapping under our Shiksha Sankalp program, thousands of children are out of services, lying on their back and depoliticized. Without a constituency their voices are not represented in Parliament. This conference aims to focus on these forgotten millions made invisible by Government apathy negligence, and faulty lack of practices."
“In a developed world we can advertise services for the disabled and people have the resources to come and access those services. But it won’t work in poorer places in India where we have to go and find them out and also study the specific barriers that are preventing the disabled from accessing the services. We can make changes in the system that will help do this,” said Daniel Mont, Former Consultant to the World Bank who is working on an extensive mapping exercise in one urban and one rural locality in India that will help include the disabled in services like education. He believes that events like the North South Dialogue where professionals from different countries exchange ideas, will go a long way in addressing the injustice done to the disabled and reducing the economic cost that neglecting the disabled has on any society.
With a wide spread participation of professionals the conference will become a five day concentrated confluence of all people working in the disability sector in India. This will have a systemically positive influence on not just the 10% Indians who are disabled but also their families and friends. Delegates from 22 countries, including the evolved western one like UK, USA, Canada and Australia will share ideas with those from the developing world like Vietnam, China, Tibet and Cambodia where the disabled are facing unimaginable oppression. Also, 20% of people presenting papers in the conference are disable themselves thus becoming living proof of disability evolving from a charity model to a rights based and economic one in India.
Sathi Alur, Honorary Adviser and Member of Governing body, ADAPT said, “Segregation that the disabled face has an economic angle which not many are aware of. It costs a nation much more to keep the disabled away from society than to spend the bit required to include them and making them functional members of the society. The conference will deliberate on exactly how this happens and we hope it will help the governments of the developing world that are participating see the value of inclusion.”
The conference will focus on the difficulties of developing countries in including Children With Disabilities (CWD) that is leaving millions of children out of schools. It is being supported by the Bank of America (BOA), the State Bank of India (SBI) and CBM Germany. The first North South Dialogue was held in 2001 with the subsequent ones in 2003 and 2005.