This year the theme was: “Strengthening human diversity.” This theme could not have come at a more opportune time when so much upheaval, intolerance and narrow-minded bigotry have pervaded the world, from religion to politics. It therefore becomes ever so necessary to once again remind each other of the imperative of strengthening the diversification that exists within the human community.
Deaf and hard-of-hearing people are everywhere in our communities and they have the same rights as every other human being, but are most times discriminated against and denied their basic rights such as quality education. Most of them have never sat in a classroom either because they have not been catered from the level of the family, society and at the level of government.
So in our drive to provide quality and child-friendly education we must put into consideration the need to provide proper learning institutions for the disabled people especially the ones with hearing and speaking difficulties. It’s a sad fact that most of them pass their lives in illiteracy when they could have attained the highest levels of literacy. The fact that there is only one school for the deaf and hard-of-hearing in The Gambia, which can cater for only 25% of the deaf population in the country, should force the government and others abled stakeholders to partner in creating more such schools. It must be remembered that it is every child’s right to a decent and proper education even he or she has difficulties in learning. A society’s development is not to be measured by its many modern infrastructures alone but in how it deals with its most vulnerable constituents.
Education aside, the issue of diversity and how it relates to disabled people is a profound one. They are a part of humanity and they play a major role in effecting a harmonious and progressive narrative for the human experience. It requires no metaphysics to come to a conclusive cognition that unless the most vulnerable are considered and their presence honoured, then there is no use to all the ideologies and programmes that we are putting forward to make the world a better place.
Part of strengthening human diversity is to give equal opportunities to each and every constituent of society. All deserve a life that’s based on the highest ideals promoted by democracy and human rights. The bedrock that defines diversity after all is that no one man is better than any and that all ways of life and ideologies, as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of another, are to be genuinely promoted and protected. And all human life as long as it’s in existence is to be dignified and not abused and mistreated either verbally or physically, and this is what characterizes any civilised society ultimately.
We should realise that deafness and other disabilities are not a curse. So the myth in our societies that disabilities are a curse and that God made certain people disabled because they might turn out to be evil mongers when not in that sorry situation, should stop.
When all is said and done, strengthening of human diversity is nothing less than strengthening the rights of man. To cultivate that ideal we must return foremost to our democratic institutions and empower them, and through that every person in our society will eventually be able to claim their rights justly and thus authenticating the diversification process.]]>