Happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities!
Annually, December 3rd is observed as International Day of Persons with Disabilities This has been the case since 1992. The observance of the day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the rights, dignity, and well-being of persons with disabilities.
This year, the world celebrates the day under the theme, ‘Innovation and Transformative Solutions for Inclusive Development’.
Persons with disabilities are often treated poorly in South Sudan. Without challenging the stigma around disability and changing existing discriminatory practices, persons with disabilities will continue to be excluded from society.
The media has the potential to change these negative stereotypes. Radio is the most prevalent form of media in South Sudan. It is a powerful tool that can help to challenge negative socio-cultural beliefs. For this reason, the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) programme has been introducing the innovation of training radio presenters so they can better understand their role in promoting disability inclusion in South Sudan.
GESS provided the training to radio presenters across the country. The radio presenters have been oriented on their role in promoting disability inclusion in South Sudan. So far, GESS has trained 20 radio presenters from 20 radio stations across the country, and 20 Community Mobilisation Focal Persons. The radio presenters moderate discussions on the radio, including responding to callers’ inquiries, while the Community Mobilisation Focal Persons provide training to Community Mobilisation Volunteers who facilitate community discussions on issues of education and inclusion in communities.
The training to radio presenters covered:
- The role of radio in promoting disability inclusion in South Sudan
- How to effectively respond to callers inquiring about issues of disability
- Using the correct terminology and positive language linked to disability
- The use of real-life stories to promote inclusive education
- How to mobilise local resources to remove access barriers experienced by children with disabilities.
Earlier this year, we spoke to some of these radio presenters about the training and the progress that has been made to ensure that persons with disabilities are fairly represented in the media. Watch the video, here: http://bitly.ws/xnZq
“ When I had just started the programme here on Grace Radio, the first time it was not something easy. I was still lacking experience on how to present to the callers and how to draw in more callers. But thank God I had some training that helped me a lot and it has really boosted my presentation (skills) on this programme on persons with disability,” Grace, a radio presenter from Torit.
GESS’ radio programme, ‘Our School’, airs on over 20 radios stations across South Sudan. Radio content challenges negative behaviours and attitudes towards girls’ education and education of persons with disabilities. These episodes of ‘Our School’ radio programme encourage parents, guardians, and all stakeholders to ensure children with disabilities are enrolled in school and afforded equal treatment like others.
Today, GESS joins the rest of the world in commemorating this day. Through mainstreaming disability inclusion across all elements of the GESS programme, we acknowledge the need for and importance of being inclusive of persons with disabilities. We call upon all stakeholders to make sure that equal opportunity is given to children with disabilities in South Sudan and that all stigma and discrimination is wiped out.