Young leader creates association for disabled students in Indonesia

May 31, 2022

Young leader creates association for disabled students in Indonesia

Nur Syarif Ramadhan speaks to the IYLP network. Photo: supplied

A young disability rights activist has created a disabled-students association for universities in East Indonesia, thanks to a leadership programme run by UnionAID at the Auckland University of Technology.

Nur Syarif Ramadhan, who lives with a sight impairment, was the first person with a disability to come through the Indonesia Young Leaders Programme, also known as Inspirasi, which was established in 2018

Disabled people often shied away from such programmes, fearing accessibility issues, he told TWN.

Non-governmental organisation UnionAID has recently launched this year’s Inspirasi programme.

The online launch initiated the English-learning component of the programme online, with the full course starting next month.

The 2022 launch was an online event to welcome participants and formally kick off the programme.

It was attended by New Zealand embassy staff in Jakarta, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff, representatives from the Indonesian Government, UnionAID staff and staff from AUT.

Programme manager Caroline Novak says the relationship between UnionAid and AUT is invaluable.

“We draw on AUT’s academic expertise in English-language teaching and the sustainable-development programme.

“The participants are granted access to the AUT library for their research and the university helps us to make those connections to the wider community,” she says.

Participants attend the first six months of the programme in New Zealand, developing their knowledge and ideas, and the rest, under the guidance of UnionAID staff, back in Indonesia implementing action projects.

Novak says the programme is taking on a new and hybrid approach to delivering the course.

“It looks a little bit different now in a remote setting. The first part of the course will be online and the second part in New Zealand next year when the groups are finally able to come.”

Each participant is encouraged to explore aspects of sustainable development that they can utilise in their communities when they return.

Ramadhan has strong experience in disability-rights advocacy and chose to further his passion for inclusive education through the sustainable-development programme.

“The [World Blind Union] and AUT’s disability hub both helped me a lot. They provided me with access to materials that my friends were otherwise able to access normally,” he says.

Ramadhan has recently been elected chairperson of Pergerakan Difabel Indonesia untuk Kesetaraan, a disability-rights organisation which supported his application to the Inspirasi programme.

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