INCHEON, South Korea, Oct 31 (KUNA) — Director-General of the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped Hashem Taqi was elected as the chair of the education commission at Rehabilitation International (RI), to become the first Kuwaiti to assume a key post in this global network that promotes and implements the rights and inclusion of people with disabilities.
Rehabilitation International has just concluded its General Assembly in South Korea’s western port city of Incheon, in which the delegates of organizations in 100 countries chose members of the executive committee and chairs of seven commissions for the next four years, including Education Commission Chair in which Taqi was elected for.
Speaking to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on Wednesday, Taqi, who has been working for the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped nearly 35 years, pledged joint effort with his colleagues around the globe to ensure people with disabilities to have equal access with other people to the regular education system. “I want to give a chance to children, youth and adults with disabilities to go to a normal school together with non-disabled people. We don’t isolate them from the mainstream,” Taqi stressed.
In August 2006, the United Nations adopted the first international law calling for the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons with disabilities. “My dream is to have inclusion of people with disabilities into a mainstream school and society,” Taqi said. Inclusive education also helps non-disabled people understand those with disabilities, he affirmed, saying, “If they get to know each other in a kindergarten and a school, non-disabled people wouldn’t feel difficulties in communicating with people with disabilities.” Rehabilitation International was founded in 1922 as the worldwide network of people with disabilities, service providers, government agencies, academics, researchers and advocates working to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities. There are seven commissions under the network, with Education Commission tasked to promote the rights and opportunities for children and youth with disabilities and facilitate the integrated services to enable their participation in inclusive quality education.
Taqi had been serving as Education Commission’s Arab Region Chair over years before being appointed to head the commission. He praised former Education Commission Chair Dr. Uma Tuli and other Rehabilitation International executives for their efforts and hard work, vowing to follow the path guided by his predecessors. “I learned a lot from them, and I still need a guideline and their advice.” Taqi is here with other Kuwaiti officials to attend the 22nd Rehabilitation International World Congress through Friday, at which UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered a keynote speech. The five-day events include a numerous meetings, lectures, conferences and the network’s 90th anniversary festival.
Taqi also highly values a significant role played by Kuwait Society for the Handicapped Secretary General Munira Al-Mutawa, underlining that she was awarded on Monday by Rehabilitation International for her outstanding contributions to people with disabilities, such as providing educational opportunities to them and long-term support to the Society. Al-Mutawa was also newly elected as Arab Region Chair of International Commission on Technology and Accessibility.
Legally established in 1971 as a charity organization, the Kuwait Society for the Handicapped offers various free services, such as medical care, rehabilitation and education to persons with disabilities. The Society started with the caring for 30 children with disabilities, and now it owns a modern purposed designed centre for 250 multiply disabled children, as well as day care centers in Hawally, Jahra and Ahmadi. It is worthy to note that Kuwait is the first Arab country to establish a higher council for the care of the handicapped, where the Kuwaiti constitution protects their rights.