IKEA co-workers from Australia, the Netherlands and India travelled to the Philippines to see Save the Children’s inclusive education project called, Kasali, which literally means “to belong”. The Project works with the government of the Philippines to ensure inclusion of disabled children in mainstream education. Save the Children works closely with three government departments: the Department of Education, the National Council for Disability Affairs and the Department of Internal and Local Government.
Sustainability is one the major issues that IKEA Foundation-supported projects always keep at the forefront. For Save the Children, sustainability is the best way forward as they envisage a better world for all children, today and tomorrow.
The afternoon of the first day was spent in meeting the partners from the local government unit that Save the Children closely works with. The Regional Director of the Department of Education, National Capital Region, emphasised Save the Children’s cooperation in training teachers and ending structural barriers in integrating children with disabilities in regular schools. She also emphasised that poverty is a major disabling factor that comes as a barrier in continuing school even in so called “normal” children. She emphasised the need to engage parents in children’s education.
The Regional Director of Department of Internal and Local Government, National Capital Region, came across as a true champion of the Kasali project. He has helped the Save the Children team from the very beginning by issuing specific instructions to mayors in the areas where Save the Children is implementing its project. He also helped Save the Children get in touch with the barangay (village) chiefs. He mentioned that villages are mandated to earmark a certain portion of their earning for special education. He strongly hopes that this would ensure sustainability of the project’s objectives even beyond the project period.
In the National Council of Disability Affairs (NCDA) we were made to feel at home quickly. It was very clear that Save the Children closely works with the council. NCDA is attached to the Ministry of Social Welfare but avoided the word welfare for itself as they believe in making the “rights a reality” for the disabled people. The NCDA involves itself in policy making for disabled through research and advocacy. They engage in capacity building of the existing government officials. Save the Children and NCDA are both in the technical committee of the national government to make inclusive education a reality. It was heartening to see the commitment of the government officials towards the cause.
The best part of the afternoon was to witness of the government’s openness in collaborating with the civil society to bring the best for the children of Philippines. In the morning, Save the Children’s Country Director, Ned Olney, pointed this as the major factor in success of various types of development interventions in the country. In the afternoon the IWitness team could witness that themselves.