I wish to congratulate the Philippines for dedicating the month of July to disability rehabilitation and prevention.
It is estimated that one third of out-of-school children are excluded from education because they carry a disability.
Disability should never be a cause for exclusion. Instead, it should be the trigger for societies to change, to become more inclusive, based on a sense of solidarity, respect for dignity and human rights.
Every individual has a potential to be fulfilled, and our societies are all the richer when this creativity has space to flourish.
In May, at the World Education Forum in Incheon, Republic of Korea, 160 countries committed to ensure that all children and youth receive 12 years of free public education.
They asserted that inclusion and equity are the cornerstones of a transformative education agenda, and committed to address all forms of exclusion and focusing efforts on the most disadvantaged, especially those with disabilities.
In September, world leaders will gather in New York to adopt an agenda that is people-centred and planet sensitive—an agenda that pledges to leaves no one behind. In December, they will meet in Paris to clinch a deal on climate change to set our world on a more sustainable course.
The first Techno Arts Camp for persons with disabilities, being organized by the Earth Savers UNESCO Dream Center/Artist for Peace with the Seoul Institute of Arts, is a ground-breaking initiative that deserves to be watched closely. It builds on the Conference on the Role of ICTs for Persons with Disabilities, organized by the Government of India and UNESCO in November 2014, and the World Education Forum in Incheon this May. It will not only empower vulnerable youth with the opportunity to use technology creatively, but also give them the chance to acquire new skills and together, to feel more integrated and confident. In action-research style, learning modules will be developed that can then be shared widely. This innovative partnership also encourages youth to express themselves on the impact of climate change on their daily lives, and to appeal for everyone, together, to act to protect our shared planet.
I thank the Earthsavers Dreams Ensemble and Cecile Alvarez for their generous vision and all partners involved in this initiative. I wish every success to all those who are part of this wonderful adventure that enriches each and every one us.