Self-Advocates, inclusive development experts, and European policy makers convened at the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels on 20 April to present and discuss the self-advocates manifesto for accessible development education and how to make development more inclusive. The session was hosted by Meelis Joost of the European Economic and Social Committee and organised by the “Towards Inclusive Development Education” partners, a project supporting people with an intellectual disability to be included in Development Education.
Opening the session, Meelis Joost began by reminding attendees that the involvement of Persons with Disabilities is vital for the success of European Policies. “Without changing attitudes, without having a say in all processes, we will not achieve the goals of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” adding the ‘universal design’ principle was equally essential in achieving sustainable development targets.
The hearing was the climax to a #MarchonBrussels by the TIDE project Youth Self-Advocates from Finland, Hungry, Italy, and Wales (UK). At the hearing the youth self-advocates launched their ‘Manifesto for Accessible Development Education,’ This outlines their main beliefs regarding global development challenges, and also underlines the need to include all citizens in development debates. Gerraint Jones and Ieuan Easterbrook spoke about their willingness to learn about development but also had some proposals about what we should all do to improve the world we live in. Kalle Havumäki from the Finnish hip-hop group, Resisposse, and Päivi Savelius made what is likely to be EESC history by performing a rap song on poverty for the delegates. Klara Mogony, Laszlo Bercse and Laszlo Grabics from Hungary then presented their concerns about the many international political challenges faced by the world. Lorenzo Labanti, an educator from the Italian delegation, spoke about the work done in Italy in terms of creating inclusive development education tools for persons with additional learning needs.
Following this, European policy-makers responded to the presentations. Elly Schlein MEP (S&D/IT) presented the work done by the Development committee to address sustainable development and the importance of involving persons with disabilities in the policy process from A to Z. Francoise Millecam presented the work done by the European Commission in this area. Helga Stevens MEP (ECR/BE) described to the audience her role as Member of the European Parliament, and Co-President of the Disability Intergroup. She had a clear message: “part of the EU aid budget should be earmarked for the implementation of the UNCRPD”.
A second panel involved representatives from various stakeholders in inclusive development. Nadia Hadad, board member of the European Network for Independent Living, spoke about the importance of inclusive education to live independently, presenting a thorough analysis of Article 24 (on Education) of the UN CRPD. Conny Reuter, Secretary General Solidar, said that much more should be done by Development NGOs to make the topic more inclusive. He also mentioned the importance of both formal and informal education tools such as those developed in the TIDE project. Following this, Marirosa Iannelli, COSPE, and Sisko Rauhala, FAIDD, presented some of the inclusive development education tools developed by the project partners in Italy and Finland, which will appear in a guide later this year.
For more information, please contact:
Thomas Bignal, EASPD Policy Officer.