Dear Nidhi and the other contributors, it’s a pleasure to discuss this very important topic with all of you. My name is Federica and I work for Inclusion International – The international network of people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
To achieve inclusion in education at all levels, including in low and middle income countries, there is the need to meaningfully engage with families and to recognise the role of families as the link between school aged children, their communities and schools. This is a very key issue that is at the heath of Inclusion International’s work on inclusive education. Families can and should be empowered become leaders and to mobilize the resources in their communities and work as a Network to use community-level and evidence to influence National level policy and advocacy work.
We believe that: If families are empowered to influence and change their communities and to inform schools and teachers about inclusive practices and pedagogies (including cooperative learning in the classroom), If innovative community-driven partnerships between families, schools, community leaders, and other local level stakeholders are shared, replicated and leveraged to create platforms for conversation about access to education, if family-led OPDs are equipped to harness the voices and experiences of families at the local level and translate those experiences into policy innovations and advocacy at the national level, children with intellectual disabilities will benefit from increased access to inclusive education in their communities in low- and middle-income countries.
As we know, with the COVID-19 pandemic, learners with disabilities have faced more and new barriers and challenges in accessing or continuing their education. For this reason, I would also like to share with you our recently published report on the global impact of COVID-19 on persons with intellectual disabilities and their families. The data and evidence included, as well as the recommendations, come from consultations within Inclusion International membership. The report focuses on accessibility, family support, education, employment, and more. Please find the report “A Global Agenda for Inclusive Recovery: Ensuring People with Intellectual Disabilities and Families are Included in a Post-COVID World” at this link https://inclusion-international.org/a-global-agenda-post-covid/