2019 World Down Syndrome Day Conference

Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters

21 March 2019

“Leave no one behind in education” 


10:00am – 10:45am      

Official opening and launch of World Down Syndrome Day Conference “Leave no one behind in education”

With the adoption of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 66/149, the international community agreed to formally recognize World Down Syndrome Day every 21 March, to continue to raise public awareness of Down syndrome. The resolution also calls upon the international community to continue to advocate for the rights of those with Down syndrome. The speakers on this opening panel will touch on the multiple ways that United Nations Member States and agencies across the UN system are addressing this topic.   

  • Rhonda Faragher – Down Syndrome International and The University of Queensland, Australia and Penny Robertson OAM Co-Founder Down Syndrome International and Founder and CEO of the Australian International Schools in Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia – Australia.              
  • H.E. Mr. Mauro Vieira – Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN.
  • H.E. Ms. Joanna Wronecka – Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to the UN.
  • H.E. Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura – Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN.
  • Rosangela Berman Bieler – Senior advisor on children with disabilities at UNICEF and head of the organization’s Disability Section, United States: UNICEF commitments to inclusive education’.
  • Marta Sodano* – Self-advocate, CoorDown Onlus Italy: My educational journey and what “Leave No One Behind” means to me.

*Italian translation sponsored by CO.MAC SRLC.F. e P.IVA 01996650162, Italy.


10:45am – 11:45am

What is inclusive education? Why should it be happening? What needs to be done to make it happen? 

Experts and representatives from Down syndrome and disability focused organisations will share their knowledge and experience regarding the concept and benefits of inclusive education, the human rights context, the key barriers and then look at how to promote its implementation. 

  • Thomas Hehir – Silvana and Christopher Pascucci Professor of Practice in Learning Differences, Harvard University Graduate School of Education, United States: Inclusive Education: An International Research Summary.
  • Ignacio Calderón-Almendros – Associate Professor, Department of Theory and History of Education, University of Malaga, Spain: The Languages of Oppressed People as Hope.
  • Sue Swenson – President Inclusion International and recent past Deputy Asst Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service, US Dept of Education, United States: “Inclusion:  From Why to How”.
  • Hana Abu Khadra Salem – Inclusive Education advocate and consultant, Lebanon: Inclusive education in Lebanon – the next steps.
  • Mariusz Bojarowski – Member of the Board, Polish Association for Persons with Intellectual Disability, Poland: Towards inclusive education – organisation of education in Poland.
  • Maksymilian Bojarowski – Self-advocate, Pupil in public primary school with integration class, Poland: My (extra) ordinary school 

11:45am – 1:00pm

Promoting the implementation of inclusive education

Representatives from Down syndrome and disability focused organisations will provide examples of different ways of working to achieve the implementation of inclusive education for people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities of all ages and abilities in countries across the world.

  • Diane Richler – Chair, Catalyst for Inclusive Education, Inclusion International, Canada: Achieving inclusive education and improving education for all.
  • Daniela Gamboa Zapatel – Inclusive Education Coordinator at the Peruvian Down Syndrome Society and representative of the Regional Network for Inclusive Education: Valuing diversity for school transformation: A Peruvian experience. 
  • Rodrigo Hübner Mendes – Founder and CEO of the Rodrigo Mendes Institute, Brazil:  High expectations for everyone: a guiding principle for inclusive schools.
  • Gillian Bird – Services Director, Down’s Syndrome Association, United Kingdom: Including all children and young people who have Down’s syndrome.
  • Julie de Barbeyrac – Program coordinator in the Disability Section, Programme Division at UNICEF HQ, United States: All children in school and learning!  Accessible digital textbook for learners with and without disabilities.
  • Marcelo Furtado – Executive Director of Alana Foundation, Brazil and Marco Munoz – Senior Director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States: Supporting different abilities to strengthen inclusive education.

1:00pm – 3:00pm   Lunch

A lunch time side event will be taking place as follows:

Title: The status of inclusive education in the United States

Location: Conference room 6, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY 10017.

Time: 1.15pm-2.30pm.

Please note this event is not available to watch or follow online.


3:00pm – 3:20pm

International guidelines for the education of learners with Down syndrome 

  • Rhonda Faragher – Down Syndrome International and The University of Queensland, Australia and Penny Robertson OAM Co-Founder Down Syndrome International and Founder and CEO of the Australian International Schools in Jakarta and Bali in Indonesia – Australia: Overview of DSi’s upcoming international education guidelines for the education of learners with Down syndrome. Launching a stakeholder consultation process. 

3:20pm – 4:15pm  

The current reality in education – an international perspective

A brief overview of the situation in education for people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities in countries from around the world, including representatives from Down syndrome and intellectual disability organisations.

  • Cátia Malaquias – Co-founder and Adviser, All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education; Founder and Director, Starting With Julius; Board Director, Down Syndrome Australia: Education of students with disabilities in Australia and the unrealised promise to ensure a universally accessible and inclusive education system.
  • Lenir Santos** – Lawyer and President of the Brazilian Federation of the Associations of Down Syndrome (FBASD), Brazil: Achievements and setbacks: no one should be left behind.
  • Daniela Gamboa Zapatel – Inclusive Education Coordinator at the Peruvian Down Syndrome Society and representative of the Regional Network for Inclusive Education: An overview of the work of the Regional Network for Inclusive Education.
  • Ilil Leder – Yated (Down Syndrome Society of Israel): Education and full inclusion for children with Down Syndrome in Israel.
  • Rita Piya – Architect, Founder Vice President of Down Syndrome Association of Nepal: Situation for the education of people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities in Nepal.
  • Sue Swenson – President Inclusion International and recent past Deputy Asst Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Service, US Dept of Education: IDEA – history, progress, and where are we now in the US.
  • Janice McPhillips – Self-advocate, President of the YAI’s Self Advocacy Group, United States: Everyone has the right to education – a personal journey.
  • Jessamy Tang (Moderator) – Chair, World Down Syndrome Day Conference at United Nations Headquarters; Board member, Down Syndrome International, The Matthew Foundation, and Disability Rights Legal Center, United States: Delivering further messages from Down Syndrome International’s members around the world.

**Portuguese translation partly sponsored by the Alana Foundation, Brazil


4:15pm – 5:45pm

Further consideration of how to “leave no one behind in education” 

Session to bring back together experts, education professionals, representatives from Down syndrome and disability focused organisations and advocates encompassing broad and in-depth knowledge and experience of issues relating to inclusive education.  Panelists will consider specific issues concerning the education of people with Down syndrome and intellectual disabilities, through a moderated question and answer session.

Moderators:

  • Johanna Berglein – Manager of International Affairs YAI, United States and Cátia Malaquias – Co-founder and Adviser, All Means All – The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education; Founder and Director, Starting With Julius; Board Director, Down Syndrome Australia)

5:45pm – 6:00pm

Closing remarks

  • Andrew Boys – Executive Director, Down Syndrome International, United Kingdom: Consideration of key messages from the WDSD 2019 Conference. How all stakeholders can work together to deliver and promote these messages globally.       
  • Alexander Amadeus Lee – Self-advocate, 5th grade student at the Upper Merion Middle School in Pennsylvania, United States: My message.