22.05.2017 - UNESCO Office in New Delhi

Towards Effective Coordination and Convergence in the Disability Sector: An Inter-Agency Working Group

UNESCO New Delhi in collaboration with the School Education and Sports Department, Government of Maharashtra jointly organized the First Inter-Agency Working Group Meeting on “Promoting the Right to Quality Education for Children with Disabilities (CWDs) on Thursday, 20 April 2017 at Hotel Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai. The meeting was co-chaired by Shri Nand Kumar, Secretary, Department of School Education and Sports, Shri S J Kunte, Secretary, Higher and Technical Education Department, Government of Maharashtra and Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, Director and UNESCO Representative. Attended by over forty five participants from diverse backgrounds working in the field of disability rights and education, meeting included representatives from line departments, government institutions, civil society organizations, UN agencies and persons with disabilities.

The meeting was held under the United Nations Partnership on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and as part of UNESCO New Delhi’s 'Promoting the Rights of Children with Disabilities to Quality Education' project. The project aims to promote the rights of children with disabilities to quality education by enhancing dialogue and convergence among key stakeholders on policy issues involving disability and education through the establishment of Inter-Agency Working Groups (IAWG) at the national and state level. At the national level, the IAWG has been set up and the first meeting was held on 17 January 2017.

The primary objective of the state level IAWG is to augment coordination, partnerships among line departments and across sectors to promote the rights of children with disabilities to quality education and ensure alignment of the India’s national laws (Right to Education Act 2009, Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016) with the country’s global commitments under Sustainable Development Goals and UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The meeting provided a platform to discuss how the different stakeholders can come together to promote disability rights in Maharashtra’s development agenda in general, and in the education agenda in particular and encouraged discussion on the mainstreaming of disability issues in policy-making.

The meeting concluded with the Department of School Education and Sports and Department of Higher and Technical Education, Government of Maharashtra extending support and leadership for the IAWG at the state level. As a follow-up to the meeting, a larger forum on the subject matter was invited on 25 April 2017 by the Department of School Education and Sports which would serve as the Secretariat for the state IAWG. In addition, the Office of Commissioner for Disability under the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment drafted an action plan for the operationalization of the mechanism at the state level. The IAWG will be further supported locally by UNDP and UNICEF (Maharashtra offices).

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