End Exclusion: Project Finished, Mission Continues

Opening statement by Fiona Hall MEP

20.000 young Europeans celebrate an inclusive society


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“Exclusion is also an economic concern”

According to the newest report of the Global Campaign for Education more than 90% of all children with disabilities in developing countries never have the chance to attend school. That is an alarming fact not only for the children and their families, but also for the development of society. "Exclusion is not only a social concern, it is also an economic concern: pointing out to countries how much they lose because of exclusion is an important selling point for inclusion”, Marja Karjalainen of the department “Development and Cooperation” at the European Commission stated. According to the report a country loses between 3 to 7% of its gross domestic product when people with disabilities are excluded from education and consequently the job market.

“We must ensure that people with disabilities are included in the development goals after 2015. We must not leave anybody behind”, Director International Programmes and Policy Johannes Trimmel claims. Nafisa Baboo adds: “We must step up our efforts – for all the children with disabilities worldwide. And for girls like Yetnebersh and me who have big ambitions to make the world a better place. It’s up to us!”

A 3-year-EU-project implemented by LIGHT FOR THE WORLD gave young Europeans the chance to experience inclusion and to speak out for the rights of children with disabilities. 20.000 kids and adolescents participated in 11 inclusive music and sports events in four countries. A total of 140.000 people were reached.

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD and our partner organisations eRko and Dutch Coalition on Disability and Development celebrated the closing of our EU-project with a conference in the European parliament in Brussels last Thursday. “End Exclusion – Let’s enable the Millennium Development Goals” had been the objective of the past three years.

“It's not a closing event, it's a causing event – it causes the end of exclusion”, Yetnebersh Nigussie, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Center for Disability and Development and International Ambassador of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, said in her statement. “Inclusion is the demand for rights and exclusion deprives people's fundamental rights. The exclusion of 1 billion people is not a side issue!” Yetnebersh Nigussie is blind since she was 5 years old. She studied law, founded a school, received numerous awards and became a role model for people and especially women with disabilities worldwide.

Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities: Global report about inclusive education

LIGHT FOR THE WORLD’s next task is to raise awareness about the Global Campaign for Education that this year focuses on inclusive education for children with disabilities. “Every child has a right to be educated. We have to convince all governments worldwide to invest into building an inclusive education system where the needs of young people with disabilities are met in their local schools”, Nafisa Baboo, Senior Advisor on Inclusive Education of LIGHT FOR THE WORLD, says. Nafisa Baboo who has a visual impairment was able to benefit from an inclusive education herself. “My father, who is blind, was separated from his family at the age of 9 to attend a special school for the blind. He made a conscious decision to send me and my brother with learning difficulties to our local mainstream school.  He believed the best way to prepare a child with a disability for life in the real world is if they learnt to negotiate it from early on.”