OAS and ORITEL to Promote Inclusive Education in the Americas

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Organization of Telethons (ORITEL) presented the Program for the Promotion of Inclusive Education in the Americas, by which they will jointly carry out educational activities that contribute to the inclusion of people with disabilities in a regular educational system respectful of diversity in the region, beginning with the holding of seminars in nine countries of the Americas.

Boy sitting in wheelchair in school against volumes of books on bookshelf in library.The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, said the initiative “seeks to open spaces for inclusion for people with disabilities, and is aligned with the policy of expanding rights for everyone.” “Inclusive quality education has the capacity to transform the inequality gap that affects the region and create more opportunities for progress,” he added.

For his part, the President and founder of ORITEL, Mario Kreutzberger, said “thanks to this agreement we will be able to work together toward greater access and education for millions of children and young people with disabilities and that to date do not fully enjoy the exercise of a right as basic as access to inclusive and quality education.”

He added that, “thanks to this agreement, we have laid the groundwork to contribute through discussion, analysis and shared experience to the management of new and better public policies in education, which will no doubt be part of new opportunities in the building of a more just and compassionate society in the Americas.”

The two organizations today signed a framework agreement that seeks to generate synergies in the promotion of the inclusion of people with disabilities in the Americas based on a paradigm of human rights and not on charity, pity or welfare. As its first product, the two organizations will move forward with the Program for the Promotion of Inclusive Education in the Americas for people with disabilities.

Training, promotion, and conscience-raising seminars on inclusive education will be held in nine countries in the region: Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru, Uruguay and Nicaragua.

The calendar of the seminars for 2017 is as follows:

–    Paraguay – September 18 and 19

–    Chile – October 3 and 4

–    Uruguay – October 27 and 28

In 2018 seminars will be held in Colombia, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Peru and Nicaragua. The seminars are designed for directors, teachers, and officials in the educational community, parents and civil society organizations of people with disabilities, as well as public authorities who make decisions on the issue.

All the activities – free and open to the public – will include the participation of international and national experts, among which there will be experts with disabilities, and technicians from public and private organizations. The participants will learn fundamental concepts and principles of inclusive education, the concept of disability according to the social and human rights model, the normative international framework related to the issue in terms of human rights, and practical tools for the transformation of schools and inclusive work in the classroom.

The OAS will contribute its technical assistance to helping ORITEL to develop management based on the social and human rights model of people with disabilities, while ORITEL will contribute with financial and technical-professional resources to produce new communication and program contents based on the principles of the the Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities (CIADDIS-OEA, 1999), the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN-CDPD) and in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The OAS manages the area of people with disabilities through the Department of Social Inclusion of the Secretariat for Access to Rights and Equality, whose work is oritented toward the promotion of the two main instruments of the Inter-American system on the issue: The Inter-American Convention and the Program of Action for the Decade of the Americas for the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.

The mission of ORITEL consists of supporting and strengthening its network of member countries with actions and programs that contribute to improving the quality of services of rehabilitation and inclusion provided to people with disabilities.

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