For the first time, educators, legislators, service providers, support groups/associations, international organizations, disabled people organizations, international and local students and parents will gather together at the SMX Convention Center Manila on February 22-24, 2017 to set the cornerstone for building an intentional and proactive community for inclusive education.The theme of this event is I AmYou – Opening Minds, Opening Hearts: Putting Values into Action.
Given the broad scope of inclusive education that encompasses people with disabilities, indigenous people, Muslims and other marginalized communities, most of the topics and discussion at this February Summit will focus on people with disabilities. The end goal is to build on this Summit, the beginning of a series of conferences, the greater essence of inclusive education – education for all.
Vice President Leni Robredo will grace the event in providing welcome remarks together with Australian Ambassador Amanda Gorely, UNICEF Country Representative Lotta Sylwander and SM Supermalls President Anna Maria Garcia. Senator Bam Aquino and Congressman Alfred Vargas are expected to present the joint bill to serve the people with disabilities worked on by the organizing committee spearheaded by the Fully Abled Nation. They will be joined by Engineer Bien Mateo of SM Cares, Rhodora Palomar-Fresnedi of Unilab Foundation, Carmen Reyes-Zubiaga of the National Council on Disability Affairs and Atty. Adel Tamano to share their programs and messages of inspiration.
Renowned international experts in inclusive education are expected to provide the keynotes at the Summit, namely Professor Tony Booth from the University of Cambridge, celebrated author of the Index for Inclusion (translated into 40 languages), and David Hoff of the Boston based Institute for Community Inclusion.
We also have extraordinary people sharing their overcoming-disability-to succeed success stories – Sarah Jane Dela Rosa, a 22 year old student with cerebral palsy fully included in a regular class; Erick 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.
Schools, both public and private, parents, service providers and support groupswill share best practices/perspectives on how inclusion works for their children. 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.
One of the program highlights will include the showing of the powerfully moving documentary “Yakap”, which follows the lives of three families of children with special needs, produced by Dolores Cheng of the Center of Possibilities. Along with this is the exhibition of #DrawDisability, a global art campaign launched by the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI), in partnership with the Global Observatory for Inclusion (GLOBI) and the United Nations Global Education First Initiative Youth Advocacy Group (GEFI-YAG).
The Summit aims to call for a unified response – #YesToInclusion and to spearhead a movement that will advocate for the right of the individual with a disability to be educated along with his/her peers in the regular classroom.