Innovative Policy 2016 on Inclusive education and ICT
Changing exclusionary behaviour patterns through advocacy
|Responsible body||UNICEF Montenegro, in partnership with Government of Montenegro, EU and others|
The “It’s about Ability” programme (2010–2014) consisted of a nationwide campaign that engaged government officials, celebrities, civil society, educators, and school children to increase awareness of the rights of persons with disabilities, and to support reform on Inclusive Education and de-institutionalization. This innovative approach – which involved young people both with and without disabilities as change agents –attracted a lot of public attention, and turned the campaign into a movement of social change as partners from all sectors and institutions were involved.
Like many other Eastern European countries, Montenegro inherited an underdeveloped system for equitable care of children with disabilities. A legislative reform was developed to address inclusive education and de-institutionalization. However, efforts to develop small group homes for children with severe disabilities failed due to hostility and prejudice by the hosting communities. To increase awareness of the rights of children with disabilities and to change social norms, UNICEF Montenegro launched in 2010 the Communication for Development campaign “It’s About Ability.” A participatory approach was applied from the beginning as disabled person’s organizations, especially associations of parents of children with disabilities, and youth with disabilities were involved in all campaign stages and in its task force. Based on Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice surveys and in consultation with the task force, UNICEF Montenegro developed the communication strategy and revised it regularly.
«Promoting positive images of children with disabilities and enabling them to express their own story is crucial to breaking down the barriers to their inclusion..»
UNICEF Montenegro’s “It’s about Ability” Programme of 2010 was an international non-legally-binding policy measure. Children were at the centre of the campaign and spoke on the most popular TV and radio shows, spurring discussions concerning inclusion right up to the national Parliament. A broad social mobilization campaign comprised numerous stakeholders, such as the media, private sector, and celebrities, thus fuelling donations, volunteerism, etc. Active school parliaments increased and more children learned about their rights; some became young TV reporters and some spoke in the municipal parliaments. UNICEF ran national advertisements (TV, billboards, newspapers, social media, posters in schools and health centres, etc.) stressing the dignity and potential of children with disabilities. To add to the momentum, celebrities were featured in advertisements and attended events, while UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Rambo Amadeus produced a programme song called “It’s about ability.”
Nominated by: Megan T TUCKER, UNICEF