Eddie Ndopu speaks up for inclusive education in Rwanda
Last year, we were delighted to welcome disability & human rights activist Eddie Ndopu to HI as our new Ambassador. We recently caught up with Eddie in Rwanda, where he was visiting our inclusive education projects in and around Kigali.
HI Ambassador Eddie Ndopu | © Neil Thomas/HI
What made you decide to become an ambassador for Humanity & Inclusion?
I decided to become an ambassador for HI because I believe that we must strive to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
What makes HI a strong organisation is the recognition that inclusion has to be part and parcel of what it means to be a global citizen; that HI is at the forefront of reaching the most vulnerable people of society first.
What has been the most moving time for you here in Rwanda?
My time here in Rwanda has been moving and inspiring, I’ve been able to learn from practitioners on the ground about what works in terms of including children with disabilities within an educational setting. It’s really been about learning first hand, from family members, from the children themselves, also teachers that it is possible to have children with disabilities within an educational setting, thriving and learning. For me this really is a model of possibility.
What has been your most memorable moment in Rwanda?
The most touching moment for me was meeting Olivier and his family, Olivier lives with Cerebral Palsy and he has the most supportive family.
It was so inspiring watching Olivier’s father dance with him, it moved me because what this says is there is more to disability than exclusion, than isolation, there is more than neglect.
To see children with disabilities and their families experience joy and celebrating their lives really changes the narrative, challenges preconceptions about what we think the lives of people with disability is about.
Why is it so important that children with disabilities go to school?
It is important that children with disabilities go to school because children with disabilities grow up to be adults with disabilities and we need people with disabilities to be economically active - we need to be part of society because we are part of society.
Disability is a spectrum; it is part and parcel of the human condition. We need to recognise the inherent value and potential of people with disabilities and, in order to do that, every child with a disability needs to be able to see the inside of a classroom.
Why Inclusive Education and not just education?
To me, accessible education is not the same as Inclusive Education. Inclusive Education is about moving beyond minimum standards and regulations. It is not enough to have a ramp in a building, it’s about how the children with disabilities are treated when they are inside. Are they able to learn, able to have aspirations?