IDIA Law Blog: Increasing Access by Increasing Diversity

Empowering underprivileged students through legal education.

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The IDIA Charitable Trust was selected by the Vienna based Zero Project as one of 86 winners from across the world for “Innovative Practices 2016” at this year’s Zero Project Conference on Inclusive Education and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that was held on 10-12 February 2016 (http://zeroproject.org/practice/india-idia-charitable-trust/).

The project was distinguished at the United Nations Office in Vienna in the presence of more than 500 experts in the field of disability rights from over 70 countries around the world for its achievements in Inclusive Education and ICT. IDIA’s Executive Vice-President Swaraj Paul Barooah represented IDIA at the conference, where he also shared IDIA’s work and vision in working towards more inclusive education (see presentation here) with the esteemed audience.

Image of the Certificate for Zero Project Innovative Practice 2016 awarded to IDIA Charitable Trust

Innovative Practice 2016 certificate for IDIA Charitable Trust

The Zero Project

The Zero Project is an initiative of the Essl Foundation that gives recognition to innovative and effective solutions to the problems faced by persons with disabilities in their day to day lives. It conducts research on a theme selected from the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) each year. It recognises the most innovative policies and practices for each year’s themes. The Zero Project also monitors the implementation of UN CRPD around the world. It shares its information about implementation of UN CRPD and the innovative practices through its annual report, conferences and website. It is a first of its kind initiative, which provides a platform where solution oriented innovative practices and policies focusing of rights of persons with disabilities can be shared to allow everyone to benefit from the creative thinking of a few. The Zero Project promotes and creates awareness about practices that could make a difference in implementing the rights of persons with disabilities.

The Zero Project Conference witnesses participation of disability experts, government ministers, activists, educationalists and reformers from over 70 countries. At the conference, persons behind the practices recognised by the Zero Project as innovative practices present their solutions and discuss the applicability of their solutions to situations in other parts of the world. At discussions and workshops forming part of the conference, the speakers discuss the issues surrounding that year’s theme and the implementation of the UN CRPD.

Image of Swaraj with the certificate for innovative practice with white background containing Zero Project logo

Swaraj receiving the certificate on behalf of IDIA

Selection of IDIA as an awardee for Innovative Practices 2016

This year’s theme for the Zero Project was Innovative Policies and Practices on Inclusive Education and ICT. From several entries for innovative practices and policies, the Zero Project selected the most ‘innovative practices’ that are not only unique and imaginative in their approach of tackling problems but are also scalable, that is, capable of being replicated in other countries. The Zero Project uses the experience of renowned experts from more than 150 countries and from several sectors for recognising the innovative practices that are scalable. It has an extensive five-stage process for selecting the most ‘innovative practices’ in the world (see more here).

IDIA has the privilege of being recognised as one amongst the 86 innovative practices selected from 46 different countries for making noticeable strides in the field of inclusive education. Mr. Swaraj Paul Barooah, the Executive Vice President of IDIA Charitable Trust represented IDIA at the event and was one of the speakers at the conference. The vision of IDIA of empowering the marginalised communities through means of legal education and increasing access to the coveted legal institutions of the country was presented at the conference in the session titled “Changing Attitudes: Successful Advocacy Campaign”. Our model of identifying and training scholars who show potential and providing them requisite support structure to help them gain entry into the elite National Law Universities was appreciated as one which could be replicated in other similarly situated countries.

Image of panel for the session on Changing Attitudes: Successful Advocacy Campaigns sitting on the stage (including Swaraj)

Session on Changing Attitudes: Successful Advocacy Campaigns

Hurray!!

Recognition by Zero Project is an important milestone for IDIA as it helped to showcase IDIA’s work at an international platform. The Zero Project’s rigorous selection process of innovative practices that could be replicated worldwide made IDIA’s selection even more meaningful. It helped us to take our message to like-minded individuals from other parts of the world and enrich ourselves from the experience and knowledge of others. While the IDIA team already runs on passion for our cause, recognition of this sort acts as a further stimulant. It encourages us to struggle more and work harder to realise our vision and contribute in the creation of a ‘world without barriers’.

This article was prepared with contribution from Madhavi Singh, volunteer, IReach.

Original author: Swati Agrawal


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