Education is the door of opportunity. Every child strives for the best school. This was no different for me, a girl carrying a dream and having hope for a good life in the future. So this girl chose to apply to the school that she thought was the best school. However, she was rejected just because she was disabled.
My name is Siribut Musikapodok. I am now studying at the Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University. My major is special education.
I am a person with visual impairment, or low vision. When I was 15, I was rejected from the school that I wanted to attend just because I'm disabled.
Throughout my school life, there were many barriers that I encountered, like not being able to see the blackboard, so I could not have access to the knowledge that my teacher taught me. I lacked motivation to study. In PE and art classes, the teacher did not let me study with my friends because I couldn't do something that my friends could. And of course, I always felt different from my friends.
According to UNICEF, there are about 240 million children with disabilities worldwide, many of whose fundamental rights, including the right to education, are neglected. In Thailand, during the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years, educational institutions had to change their teaching style. Everyone in the education system was facing many challenges, students with disabilities especially were having their worst experiences. Most of them didn’t have the money to buy online learning tools. As a result, some dropped out and faced social problems.
Although nowadays we are promoting the education of people with disabilities more than in the past, we cannot guarantee that all who graduate from university will have a job. Thus, it is so common that people with disabilities are not accepted by society.
For myself, I chose to study special education because I hope that one day I will be a part of an education system that will reach all children equally. So that I can proudly hold every child's hand and at the same time develop their knowledge.
This is because I believe it's not just a saying that we must have dreams for the future. But please do not forget that children like us are here and now. Today, that requires nurture and care from every adult in the world.
I have a dream that in the near future, we will have an education system, a school where all children can do activities together without discriminating a child with disability from their peers. And there are teachers who are ready to develop children to their full potential no matter how the child is born. This is because every child has potential, ability, value and uniqueness. And no child should be devalued because of the inaccessibility of equitable education.
Lastly, I hope all adults will not neglect our voices, even if it's a small voice that communicates for children around the world. And if these voices may not be loud enough, I want you all to know that today's children are tomorrow's adults, our future is in the hands of all of you.
About the author:
Siribut Musikapodok is a visually impaired student at the Faculty of Education, Chiang Mai University and a member of UNICEF Young People Advisory Board.