Today is International Day of People with Disability and I would like to take a few moments to pause and reflect on why this day matters for all of us.
More than one billion people live with disability around the world. In 1992, the United Nations proclaimed December 3rd a day dedicated to celebrating the achievements, and raising awareness of challenges, faced by those living with disability. Ultimately, this is a day that seeks to bring us closer to the eradication of all barriers to inclusion, equity, and participation around the world, and is a day acknowledged by all countries.
Here at Laureate Australia and New Zealand, I know two things to be true:
First – I know we all believe in the power of education to change lives. Our Founders Statement – “When students succeed, countries prosper and societies benefit” may not use the word inclusion explicitly, however, I know wholeheartedly that it is implied. Laureate was founded on this belief and on a promise to create greater access to education around the world. It’s this promise that first attracted me to this company, and I’m certain, many of you. It’s also true that all learning environments are richer when diversity is valued, when difference is seen, and when multiple voices are heard.
Second – I know that we can and should do better. If nothing else, I hope each person reading this email takes a moment to reflect on what each of our campuses, faculties and functions could do differently to ensure no student or staff member is ever excluded based on specific learning needs or physical access needs.
I recently asked LANZ team member, Kallum Searle, to interview two of our students with disability to seek their insights into what today means to them. As you know, Melanie Tran is our 2018 Here for Good award winner, studying a Bachelor of Digital Media – Interaction Design and Petr Prasil is an international student (originally from Czech Republic), studying a Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Health. Kallum also interviewed Marcia Teperman Shapira, who is our Disability Liaison Officer. You can watch their conversation here:
It’s important to acknowledge that disability presents itself in many forms. It’s entirely possible you work with, teach, or support people with disability and are unaware. Inclusion is about ensuring access is seamless, even when it’s not obvious.
Finally, let me acknowledge the students and staff we have across LANZ and the contribution you make, and also acknowledge those who work hard to ensure our actions, courses, and campuses deliver on our promise of creating, and valuing, access for all.
CEO, Laureate Australia and New Zealand
President, Torrens University Australia