Education and Disability

This is a bit different from my usual writing. However, I decided to share it as I had saved it to my drafts on my work email and had sat there for five months without a home. It is based on notes I have made from experiences and courses I have done on disability, education, and low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Education is a fundamental human right and essential for the exercise of all other human rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) sets out the responsibility of states to provide an inclusive education system at all levels. Article 24 states that people with disabilities have the right to education on an equal basis with others and without discrimination. The CRPD committee’s General Comment on inclusive education further articulates the right to education for people with disabilities.

However, learning environments are not always inclusive and safe places. They can be sites of physical, verbal, psychological and sexual violence, and social exclusion. For children and young people who are perceived as ‘different’ and who do not fit into dominant cultures in societies, schools can actually be alienating and marginalising spaces. Moreover, violence in educational settings is a daily reality that denies millions of children and young people the fundamental human right to education.

However, despite global progress in achieving universal access to education, more than half the 65 million children with disabilities in low- and middle-income countries are not in school. They face multiple barriers to receiving an education including inaccessible schools, inaccessible teaching materials, prejudice and discrimination from teachers and bullying from peers. The situation is particularly concerning for girls with disabilities,as they are at an increased risk of violence, which can also lead to families choosing not to send them to school. In conflict settings, the risk of gender-based violence increases for all girls. Leaving them in a cycle of poverty and inequality that extends throughout adulthood.

Globally, we are facing a learning crisis. Not only are children out of school, but once in school, they are failing to learn. Children with disabilities experience lower levels of enrolment, attainment and literacy. The attainment gaps between children with disabilities and children without disabilities are growing, and children with disabilities are being left behind.

© Fi S. J. Brown

On this third rock from the sun

Let’s pause for just a minute or two.
There is:
  • 1 Planet Earth
  • 7 continents
  • 165 major rivers
  • 204 countries
  • 2000 islands
  • 6500 languages spoken
  • 8.7m species
  • 7 billion humans
Those humans vary in:
  • Ability – Mental and/or physical
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Socio-Economic Status/Class
Yet they also vary in:
  • Hopes
  • Dreams
  • Yearnings
  • Desires
  • Wants
  • Needs
  • Ambitions
  • Fears
One size does not fit all, so you be yourself and let others be themselves, but together we all matter and can make a difference,
© Fi S. J. Brown

To be human

Question, what one universal thing connects us all? Answer, being human.
 
We may look different due to gender, genetics, and/or race, but those are part of our outer shell and we share a heart that beats to give us life. We also have differences in ability, beliefs, sexuality and personality, but do they really make a difference in making someone human?
 
Equally, what is normal? Normal is how life is for us, one person’s normal may be different to ours but does not make them abnormal or a freak. Do our similarities not make us connect but these differences teach us a different way of living life, which is no more right or wrong than the way we choose to live it.
 
Today is world human rights day, a chance not to dwell on the negatives of life but be grateful for what we have and the freedoms some of us enjoy that others cannot. All to often we want more and more yet forget how lucky we actually are and what rights we have.
 
So many for example in the UK to the US taking being able to read and write as such a given thing, we learn them us small children and skills for life. However, being born in a different culture if female may never have the chance to learn these skills. Belief and faith are personal things, if someone wants to follow Christianity, Scientology, Atheism to Pastafarianism, let them. Also disabilities, not every one can be seen outwardly, but inwardly can be a struggle just to get through the day without pain and tears.
 
Recycle jealousy, greed and anger into empathy, understanding and love. Be a candle of light and hope to others not judge and jury. The world is full of critics, so be an encourager and supporter. Also, be ourselves not an imitation of someone else or hide are true selves as scared how others will react, that’s their problem not ours. Finally, embrace what makes us unique, it would be a very boring place if we are all the same!
© Fi S. J. Brown

Judge and jury

What we see in others is essentially a reflection of ourselves, our projections and prejudices. Any time we judge someone, we reveal more about our character than anything else. We sometimes judge according to another’s looks/race/gender/ethnicity/beliefs/sexuality/ability/class/age but their actions and behaviour around us and others says far more than they do. We are all on a journey, that can be very hard, tiring and tearful so why be so judge and jury to others as they live it differently to us? Enough judgement and criticism, nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes. The only person we can really judge is ourselves, without giving ourselves a hard time when we do make a mistake or two. Anyone who thinks it is okay to hurt, laugh at and/or judge another can go spin on my middle finger.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Raise your voice, not the sea level

Today is World Environment Day, with the theme ‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’ for the small islands of the world and climate change.

Our world I believe has changed in my lifetime as it has yours. Maybe it was being aware by my teens of environmental issues, from CFCs, Rainforest destruction and extinction of animals, all of which I felt were important to be addressed but all too often lost in the bigger story of humanity over Earth’s, one. We have replaced her with our own agendas, dictatorial speeches and songs.

Climate change has been perhaps the biggest story in our collective lifetimes. During my PhD I discovered changes both natural and human driven 2000 years ago, so the current changes to the environment and climate interest me on many levels. I care passionately about this world of ours and share with so many others beautiful species from cyanobacteria to plants and animals.

I am not going to say if I’m a sceptic or accepter of climate change, but we must remember that every action we do has a ripple or domino effect. In considering the impact of change we need to consider all life that live on that island and respect it, if that means listening for example to the native women, that’s what we do, and not put our size 9s and master hat thinking we know the solution.

With all the talk of Fracking close to home, many in my own country forget we too live on an island and are we prepared for changes in sea level – no! It takes a special kind of person to listen, so perhaps we should be listen and watch the small islands so they can teach us how and what not to do, respecting their traditions.

© Fi S. J. Brown