Inclusive education is not about poverty relief or about fatal diseases that require our immediate action. It’s about education for everyone, which is just as important.
It’s hard to understand how five days in such a huge country, where there are so many things to see and experience, can go so fast. We have now finished the last day of our IWitness trip together with the IKEA Foundation and Save the Children. We have also said goodbye to our fantastic new-found friends and colleagues from IKEA South Korea, with whom we made this journey together. It got very empty, since they left one day before us, and we don’t think it was a coincidence that it started to rain in Chengdu that same afternoon.
One sheet of paper would definitely not be enough to explain how the trip has affected us. Since we’ve been able to experience and witness so many things during this trip, there are so many words and feelings we would like to share. Even then, it’s hard to put down in words how all these meetings with other people have touched us. What we truly can agree about is that these people made us understand something that we all already knew before we came here: in the end it all has to do with people and the ability to change minds. These two components are the keys that will continue the progress of inclusive education. And not only for all the children here in Chengdu, but also for the many children in the whole world.
“I’ve met beautiful students with various disabilities and passionate teachers and I’ve seen an interesting and effective curriculum during this agenda,”says Sienna.Just as she says, we’ve met wonderful people, teachers and co-workers at Save the Children here in China who, every day, put their hearts and souls into their work.
This is also how Jangmi in our team explains it, when talking about these people: “During the time I’ve been here all the people I’ve met have been so great. They are warm-hearted and they have consideration and strong convictions.”
We are all lucky to have witnessed the result of their work: curious and happy children, who are given the opportunity to develop into self-confident individuals.
We can all agree with Joon’s reflections when he says: “During this trip, the children I have met helped me to define true happy moments by their actions and smiles.”There’s no doubt that the people working for the children have inspired all of us in so many ways.
Except for knowledge and resources, achieving a greater acceptance is the biggest challenge to an inclusive education. During conversations with different people who are involved with the work, we’ve been told that many parents don’t want to admit their child has a disability. Instead of searching for an explanation for the child’s behaviour, the parents choose to ignore what they perceive as a problem. Unfortunately this may also result in the child getting ignored by society, since the right resources are not provided. Here it’s quite clear that a change of people’s minds is needed. Even though we’ve had tastes of many happy stories, we’re also aware of the fact that a lot of work still remains to be done. Changing people’s awareness is a powerful agenda and it’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day…and definitely not by one single person. But together we can manage.
We felt very sad leaving Chengdu and all the dedicated people working there, who gave us the chance to witness a programme where people are moving forward and changes are arising. On the other hand, it’s a great honour to go back home and continue the important and meaningful work that we all do, and that really makes a difference. We all feel very proud of being a part of the Good Cause campaign and the support it gives, and this wonderful trip will definitely motivate us to give precious values to our lives. Hopefully you’ll also continue this significant work. The work of care.