Higher Education Programme – New Project Cycle (2015 – 2018)
ICEVI-Nippon Foundation Higher Education Programme – New Project Cycle (2015 – 2018)
IMPROVING POLICY AND EXPANDING ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION FOR PERSONS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENT IN THE EAST ASIA REGION.
Based upon needs identified in a research study conducted in its East and West Asia regions, the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), with support from The Nippon Foundation (TNF) undertook a pilot project to improve and expand access of higher education for blind students enrolled in universities in Jakarta and Bandung in 2007. The evaluation conducted near the end of year one was so gratifying that TNF encouraged ICEVI to expand this initiative to other areas of Indonesia and to the Philippines and Vietnam in 2008, Cambodia in 2010 and Myanmar in 2013. Over the past six (6) years a solid base has been established that has addressed such identified needs as: providing training and assistive technology that allows the blind students access to course materials in a much more timely manner; increasing production of course materials in accessible formats and peer counselling and special short courses to prepare blind students for their entry into the university.
This work has resulted in dramatic increases in access to university education by qualified blind students ranging from a low of 154% in Indonesia to a high of nearly 600% in the Philippines as well as an expansion in the number of universities that are enrolling qualified blind persons.
While these results are gratifying, all involved with this initiative are acutely aware of the many remaining challenges that need and will be addressed by the next phase of this project between 2015 and 2018. Specifically these are:
- Expansion to underserved geographic regions in the existing four countries and to one or two additional countries in the region;
- Expanding access to allow blind students to study in any academic area for which they are qualified; with special attention to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics);
- Developing linkages that result in a more effective transition of blind students from higher education to gainful employment.
- Achieving sustainable change by impacting public attitudes and public policies concerning higher education for all persons with disabilities.
Concise description of the expected outcome of the project, including specific numbers, where possible:
- The project will open opportunities for an estimated 820 additional visually impaired students to pursue higher education during the period 2015-2018.
- Over the three year period the project will create an estimated ninety (90) additional inclusive universities accepting visually impaired students for the first time.
- The project will organize awareness creation activities aimed at changing the attitudes of a wide range of groups within: 3.1 universities, 3.2 local and national governments and 3.3 the public-at-large, reaching more than 100,000 persons over the 3 year project period.
- The project will demonstrate that the existing environments of the higher education institutions can and will have been made more disability friendly.
- The project will prepare a cadre of trainers in each of the countries skilled in developing linkages between higher education and gainful employment.
- The project will result in positive changes in the policy formulation within higher education institutions resulting in increased access to all disabled students.
- The project will develop and disseminate specialized training materials to share best practice in the inclusion of disabled students in higher education that will be of use both within and beyond the countries participating in this network.
Explains the project outline; its contents, location, schedule of activities, targeted beneficiaries, and how the project will be conducted.
To build upon achievements to date, the project would continue improving and expanding access for qualified visually impaired students to all areas of education through:
- Equal access to all learning materials and all areas of academic pursuit,
- Enhanced awareness on the needs and capabilities of visually impaired students,
- Improved university and other public policies concerning equal access as defined in Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD),
- Increased access to appropriate employment through the establishment of effective linkages between visually impaired students enrolled in higher education and
- Internship opportunities and special programs for placement centers and employers.
The project will be implemented in
- Cambodia – Phnom Penh, Battam Bang
- Indonesia – Jakarta, Bandung, Solo, Makassar, Jog Jakarta, Semarang, Padang, Payakumbuh and Medan
- The Philippines – Manila, Cadiz, Davao and Pangasinan
- Vietnam – Hanoi, Ho Chi Min City, and Danang
- Myanmar – Yangon and Mandalay
- Laos – Vientiane
Schedule of activities:
In each country there is a local “lead organization” as mentioned in the section above. This organization, in consultation with blind and visually impaired students, universities and governments determines specific national priorities. While these priorities vary from country-to-country, all will focus on improving and expanding access to higher education. The ICEVI Higher Education Network then provides specific opportunities for exchanges between the countries so that they can learn from and support each other. During the grant period covered by this application, each country will organize orientation programs for the staff of higher education institutions where the program is to be implemented and increase the number of inclusive universities accepting and supporting students with visual impairments.
While the existing student support centers established during the first phase of the project will be put to optimum use, the nature of new student support services is likely to be different as more affordable and portable technologies are allowing for greater levels of inclusion by visually impaired students use access tools in the same places as their sighted counterparts do.
An estimated 820 visually impaired beneficiaries will be reached by the project over a three year period. This will include 150 blind students and 7,500 non-disabled students, university staff members and policy makers in Indonesia, 305 students and over 2,000 faculty members and university administrators in the Philippines, 330 students and over 1,000 faculty members and administrators in Vietnam, 20 students and over 200 university faculty in Myanmar and approximately 15 students and over 200 university faculty and administrators in Cambodia. We are unable at this time to project the number of beneficiaries in Laos until a situation analysis is completed during the first year of the project period.
How the project will be conducted?
Over the past few years this project has established a record upon which we will build. During the upcoming year we will rely on partner universities already committed to inclusion to expand the network. A major strategy in all countries will be to utilize those universities that have become more inclusive to mentor other universities that have not yet accepted student with disabilities. This strategy will be employed in our efforts to significantly expand the number of inclusive universities, particularly in underserved regions of each country.
Having reached more than 1,000 visually impaired students during the initial phase of this project, at least two of the countries (Indonesia and Vietnam) plan during the upcoming year to create formal organizations of blind students. [NOTE: The Philippines has already created such an organization using social marketing tools.] These student organizations will be trained to speak-up for their own needs and rights and to, among other things, expand the number of academic areas where visually impaired students are allowed to study.
The Philippines will pay particular attention to expanding curriculum access to the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas of the university offerings. In this effort we hope to involve a well-known, retired university professor from Japan in developing materials, in collaboration with Filipino colleagues, to support this area of the project work. The lessons learned in the Philippines can then be shared with the other countries within the network and beyond.
Finally, it was noted at our last regional advisory meeting that all countries share a common concern regarding the challenges that blind university graduates face in seeking gainful employment that is commensurate with their education. We plan during the coming phase to develop in each country a cadre of trainers capable of helping visually impaired students to better prepare themselves for employment by 1) promoting internships and work experience programs while they are still at the university, 2) working with university placement offices where they exist, 3) providing “soft-skills training” as preparation for the process of seeking employment and 4) by networking with other initiatives that support transition from university to employment such as the Inclusive Business initiative being developed at the APCD Foundation and the possible initiative The Nippon Foundation is discussing with the University of Massachusetts, Boston.
The project is currently developing a series of public education and specialized videos that are suitable for use in each country and from which raw footage can be developed into a tool that can share lessons learned and be disseminated well beyond the countries directly benefitting from this initiative. In each country special events will be organized to assure that the work of the project is communicated to the general public via newspapers, magazine, radio and TV. Vietnam alone has set a target of 200 newspapers, magazines, TV and radio broadcasts over the next three years to share information and expand understanding of the capabilities and talents of blind individuals. The results of the project will also be shared in national, regional, and international events organized by ICEVI and other regional and global organizations. At the end of the project period, a comprehensive report highlighting accomplishments and lessons learned will be prepared and disseminated to higher education institutions in the participating countries and to organizations with a view to affecting institutional changes in higher education policy related to students with disabilities.