By Brina Maxino
When I was 9 years old, a psychologist told my parents I had a low IQ because I was born with Down syndrome.
Seven years later, I graduated high school as class valedictorian. At the age of 20, I received a bachelor’s degree in arts with a major in history. Today, I am a pre-school assistant teacher, a Special Olympics Global Youth Ambassador and Sargent Shriver International Global Messenger. I am also the 2020 UNESCO Global Champion for Inclusion in Education.
I don’t think about what that psychologist said when I was a child, but I wonder how many children with disabilities are not fulfilling their potential because someone once said they couldn’t.
We can be more — and do more. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
The recently released “2020 UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report” (GEM) states that children and youth with disabilities are among the most marginalized and excluded people in the world. The same report says they are 2.5 times more likely never to attend school in their lifetime than other children. An estimated 650 million people are living with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region alone — this means millions of children are missing out.
Up to half of the roughly 65 million primary and lower secondary school-age children with disabilities in developing countries were already out of school before the Covid-19 pandemic. No country was prepared for Covid-19, but I feel more could have been done to protect children who were already marginalized before school closures began.Continue reading