ALLFIE marks International Day of Education 2024
As we observe the United Nations Education Day ALLFIE’s Justice and Campaigns Officer, Iyiola Olafimihan, reflects on the past year and gives a heads up of what’s coming in 2024.
The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) had a very eventful and productive 2023, starting with our well attended webinar marking UN international Education Day. As an organization that approaches our campaigns from an intersectional and social justice perspective, we often frame some of our capacity building webinars and campaigns around internationally recognized days.
At last year’s webinar, our panel of speakers and participants reflected on the significance of a day dedicated to education. However, education without the full, equitable and equal participation of all Disabled people is an injustice and blatant violation of our human rights, as codified in the UN Convention on the Rights of Disabled People (Article 24 on Education).
As our beloved and late, trustee, Joe Whittaker said at the event:
“One thing that ALLFIE can say very clearly, and very loudly, and very proudly, is that we know at ALLFIE that inclusion works. It’s not an idea. Inclusion works. When we create systems and opportunities where people are supported in meaningful ways that work for them, people can show who they are, make their contribution and participate as fully as anyone else. We know that. We don’t need permission for inclusion. Inclusion is a right”
The people, activists, lawyers, educationists and other professionals who crafted Article 24 agree with us. The question is whether policy makers and other stakeholders believe this, or whether they even understand the intersectional dimensions of segregation in education. Michelle Daley, ALLFIE’s Director, at the same webinar, quoted UNESCO:
“Without inclusive and equitable quality education and a lifelong opportunity for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, young and adults behind.”
“This is a good example to demonstrate the point I’ve been asked to speak on, and that is intersectionality and why it matters and is necessary”.
“Intersection also matters because it forces us to question how policies and practices cause intersectional discrimination. Helps us to identify deep structural barriers. Stops homogenizing Disabled people and other groups and helps to improve campaigning. And lastly, helps identify links and connections of social injustices, as we saw in the pandemic, such as class, housing and education.”
These quotes capture the essence of what we do today at ALLFIE, they define us and set us on the path of campaigning, advocating and convincing society that inclusion does work, and segregating us is a human rights issue.
As another panelist stated:
“Really the aim of education should be giving every child this opportunity to flourish and, you know, develop personally, and to develop professionally, and to go out into the world and be content and be happy and know who they are and what they can give back to their community and their society. And it’s just our elitist system that we have is just not fulfilling that.”
Elitist and based on value system, juxtaposed against intersecting identities and experiences of so many Disabled people, the barriers and attitudes continue to deprive us equal and equitable access to education.
International days are often themed by the UN or other organisations, at ALLFIE we sometimes try and align with those themes. The theme this year is learning for peace:
“In the face of escalating climate change, democratic erosion, persistent inequalities, growing discrimination, hate speech, violence, and conflict on a global scale, education emerges as a powerful tool to both address and prevent these challenges in the future. Moreover, when effectively shaped and implemented, education becomes a long-term investment with increasing returns”. (United Nations Education Day homepage)
ALLFIE demands that all Disabled people must be given the opportunity, like non-disabled people, to be part of the solution to these problems and challenges quoted above. Education can only truly emerge as a powerful tool to both address and prevent these challenges if it includes all Disabled people. Since there is likely going to be general election in the UK this year, we are mobilizing the inclusive education community to make fresh demands on the main political parties. We are therefore refreshing our manifesto and calling our members and allies to action.
We have started the process and are using today, 24th January, International Day of Education to announce that ALLFIE’s manifesto will be changing, and will involve contributions from our members, our communities, our allies, our supporters and everyone who wants to see the injustice of segregation in education stopped in this country.
We will notify you about the methods we will use to engage and solicit your input.Sign up for updates.
By Iyiola Olafimihan, ALLFIE’s Justice and Campaigns Officer