From February 22-24, 2017, the First International Leadership Summit and Seminar in Inclusive Education will happen at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia (MOA), Pasay City.
This international leadership summit, organized by the social enterprise, The Teacher’s Gallery, is spearheading a movement advocating the right of the individual with a disability to be educated in a regular classroom. Their call? #YesToInclusion
For decades now, special children and those persons with disabilities had to go through segregation and discrimination. Mainly because of traditional schools’ difficulty in dealing with children of varying medical and physical conditions, such children were relegated to schools labeled as special needs schools, with Special Education Program (SPED) teachers. I remember years back, Ateneo de Manila University took in Roselle Ambubuyog, a visually impaired student. It was a gamble for the school as they did not normally have visually impaired students before. They provided her with some equipment for visually impaired people so she could take notes. Her exams were printed in Braille. Roselle proved them right. She majored in BS Math and graduated Summa Cum Laude! More and more, people with disabilities (PWDs) are showing that they can cope in schools where students with their full senses study. There is now a growing move for inclusion — allowing PWDs to join students in regular classrooms.
Renowned international experts, Professors Tony Booth from the University of Cambridge and David Hoff of the Boston-based Institute for Community Inclusion will deliver the keynotes. There will be paper presenters on how inclusion works, posing and challenging theories, and conceiving innovative concepts. Further, participants of the 2016 Boston Study Tour will report on benchmarking best practices in the US classrooms.
Expected to take part in the program are Vice-President Leni Robredo, Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely, and UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander. Senator Bam Aquino and Congressman Alfred Vargas will be presenting the joint bill to serve the people with disabilities worked on by the organizing committee led by the Fully Abled Nation.
Schools, parents, service providers and support groups will impart best practices/perspectives on how inclusion works for their children. To explain their support programs are heads of various associations: AD/HD Association, Autism Society, Cerebral Palsy, and Down Syndrome Association. They will also be joined by highly respected developmental and behavioral pediatricians namely Dr. Francis Dimalanta and Dr. Stella Manalo and the Harvard graduates from the International Education Policy program. For the local government unit, Mayor Rex Gatchalian will share Valenzuela’s educational programs serving people with disabilities.
Part of the summit will feature extraordinary people and their disability success stories — Sarah Jane Dela Rosa, a 22-year- old student with cerebral palsy fully included in a regular class; Eric Marco Ramos, the first blind person to qualify for the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program administered by the US Fulbright Commission and currently a faculty member at Philippine Normal University; Dr. Rex Bernardo from the University of Sydney, currently a professor of Mabini Colleges; and Joy Garcia, Chief Executive Officer of Tahanan ng Walang Hagdan. Finally, Mr. Tony Llanes, the blind founder of ATRIEV (Adaptive Technology for the Rehabilitation, Integration and Empowerment of Visually Impaired) will be demonstrating digital resources for the blind.
Alongside the talks will be the exhibition of #DrawDisability, a global art campaign launched by the United Nations (UN) Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative in partnership with the Global Observatory for Inclusion and the UN Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group.
During the summit, The Center for Possibilities will also screen “Yakap”, a documentary film about the lives of three families with children with special needs. The screening will be on February 22 at 4pm.