Diakonia - People change the world
A musical performance by First Ramallah Group was part of the open day for incusion of people with disabilities, helt at Birzeit University in April 2014. Photo by Public Relations Department at Birzeit University

Strong voices in support of inclusive education

Birzeit University is one of the largest universities in Palestine. Each year its faculty of arts organizes an open day event. This year the theme was "Inclusive education". The idea came as a result of the increasing number of students with special needs at the university, and the urgent need to create opportunities for them to become active agents in their own settings through an inclusive society. Their voices need to be heard!


Integration both to the university and to society

The main goal of the event was to create an opportunity to integrate students with special needs within the community in general and in the university life in particular. The participation and the presence of people with disabilities in each step of this process is crucial, along with promoting awareness about their needs, since part of the University’s mission and responsibility is to introduce those students to the college life and its premises. Furthermore, to expose them to a range of meaningful experiences in order for them to become active agents who are fully responsible to encounter challenges in their community through being engaged in the planning, preparation, and implementation of this open day “Strong Voices”.

Open day for the incusion of disabled at Birzeit university, April 2014

Cultural activities and a marathon

The open day event was a successful one and was attended by different students, teachers, persons with disabilities and their families.

It started with a musical performance by First Ramallah Group Band (Sirryet Ramallah), followed by opening remarks from the Dean of the College of Arts, Dr Mahdi Arar, who dedicated this day to the spirit of one of his students; Mustafa Barghouti, who died recently and who experienced the meaning of challenge due to his disability, and pointed out that the aim of this day is to establish a sustainable relationship between the Faculty of Arts and the local community and its institutions.

Cultural and artistic activities were not the only activities performed. A marathon took place and was attended by students and professors.

Puppet tehatre at the open day event at Birzeit university in April 2014

A puppet show was presented by Al-Harah Theatre, in addition to storytelling about the right to education that was conducted by the Diakonia partner organization Tamer Institute for Community Education. Moreover, several presentations about the Palestinian heritage were shown and this included a presentation of traditional dresses and folklore as well as a performance of dabka dance and the popular songs (Zajal). 

Diakonia's rehabilitation programme

“Diakonia/NAD has succeeded in its work in Palestine together with its partners in improving service provision, inclusive education, policy development and appropriate legislation for the rights of people with disabilities and it is an urgent need to promote the positive attitudes and increase community’s awareness on the rights of people with disabilities”, said the Diakonia regional manager Ingrid Sievert Uddén, who also held a speach during the event.

Diakonia and the Norwegian Association of Disabled (NAD) sponsored the open day event.