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Bridging the Gap promotes the creation of a Latin American community of good practices in inclusive education

screenshot of the event: a ecuadorian sign interpreter, a internastional sign interpreter, the minister of SENADIS, Mariela Soledad Ramírez y Federico Martire, director of Bridging the Gap

As part of the capitalization strategy of the project, Bridging the Gap held on 4 and 5 May the virtual conference ‘The path to inclusive and accessible education policies: Data, indicators, and best practices for the educational inclusion of girls and boys with disabilities’ with the aim of promoting the creation of a Latin American community of best practices in inclusive educational policies based on data obtained according to internationally recognised principles.

The conference brought together Organisations of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs), institutional representatives and development practitioners and, similarly to the capitalization conference for Africa, was structured in two online sessions: a technical seminar on the first day and a policy conference on the second day.

The technical seminar was kicked off by the keynote speech of the director of the Education Research and Innovation Laboratory for Latin America and the Caribbean SUMMA, Javier González, on the UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) in Latin America. Following the keynote speech, the technical seminar held three discussion panels.

The first and second panels focused on data and indicators for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (education) and post-covid recovery and strategies in the region from different perspectives. They highlighted good practices such as the work of component I of Bridging the Gap in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) through indicators and guidelines for compliance and monitoring of the Convention by Facundo Chávez Penillas, Human Rights and Disability Advisor at the Office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Disability Data advocacy toolkit, presented by José Viera, Co-Chair of the Stakeholder Group of Persons with Disabilities, or the project “The Uruguayan education system towards inclusive education” developed in collaboration with the European programme EUROsociAL + and presented by Ana Verocai Masena from the National Public Education Administration (ANEP) of Uruguay.

The third and final panel addressed the role of government, civil society and development practitioners in inclusive education, emphasising that the best way to include persons with disabilities in society is through a strong and inclusive education system. In the words of Irene Valarezo from Fudrine Foundation, education should be “the guide that leads the way in making our societies more just and equitable”.

On 5 May, the political conference pursued a political objective focused on dialogue between institutional representatives in Bridging the Gap’s partner countries Ecuador and Paraguay.

It included the interventions of the Spanish Cooperation coordinators in Ecuador and Paraguay, as well as those of the Head of Cooperation of the Delegations of the European Union in both countries, the Ministry of the National Secretariat for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (SENADIS) of Paraguay, Mariela Soledad Ramirez Burgos, the Government advisor and President of the National Council for the Equality of Persons with Disabilities (CONADIS) of Ecuador, Xavier Torres Correa, and the President of the Latin American Network of Non-Governmental Organizations of Persons With Disabilities and their Families (RIADIS) and the International Disability Alliance (IDA), Ana Lucia Arellano, who made an engaging speech pointing out the link between poverty and disability.

The conference ended with a review of the main aspects of the technical workshop held on 4th May, followed by the launch of a call for action jointly promoted by Bridging the Gap and RIADIS to call on all Latin American nations, international organisations, technical and financial partners, and development agencies to implement and promote inclusive and accessible education policies. The call for action is also available in French, Portuguese, and Spanish.