Photo: UNDP Azerbaijan/Dilara Umudova

As prepared for delivery

PRESS DAY AT INCLUSIVE VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTER

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon! Salam!

It’s a pleasure to see you all here at the press day today and welcome you at our brand new Inclusive Vocational Arts and Crafts Training Centre in Baku’s historic Old City.

This press day, as you know, announces the launch of our first inclusive vocational education programme in arts and creative cultural expression, which this beautiful and cosy centre offers currently to over 65 students with varying abilities, some of them with and some without disabilities. This centre has been established as part of a joint project funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP together with the Administration of the Icherisheher.

This project is unique in that it promotes inclusive education for people with and without disabilities, helping young students learn together and experience life through traditional arts.

At UNDP, we invest in lifelong learning and creating an inclusive future for people with disabilities. It’s an imperative and our duty to carry in a world where one billion people –or 15% of the world population live with disability, making them the largest minority in the world. As our Administrator Achim Steiner says: “A world free from discrimination and marginalization of persons with disabilities is within reach. We are here to discuss how we – as individuals and societies - can ensure that they are given equal access and voice in society so they can realize their fullest possible potential”

What we do here in this Inclusive Vocational Training Centre is very much in line with our collective commitment as nations, people and organizations to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Specifically, in accordance with Goal 4. Quality Education, one of these 17 SDGs, we are committed to implementing programmes and supporting initiatives that ensure inclusive and quality education for all Leaving No One Behind and provide equal access to affordable vocational training.

Our project to promote inclusive education through traditional arts is made available through generous financial support from the European Union and here I want to thank cordially the delegation of the EU to Azerbaijan for their continuous interest in supporting inclusive development processes.

I am also very much grateful for the collaboration with the Icherisheher State Historical-Architectural Reserve, an implementing partner of UNDP who role and leadership throughout the establishment of this Training Centre has been tremendous.

Our joint efforts not only provide equal access to vocational arts and crafts programmes for the youth with and without disabilities, but most importantly they stimulate the integration of students with disabilities into society through positive experience of inclusion, mutual understanding, tolerance and basic human love between peers.

Already today, our inclusivity centre that you see here, has over 60 people enrolled in various art activities and courses taught here. We have 25 students with various disabilities such as developmental delay, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy and 40 students without disabilities.

All these kids –regardless of the type of the challenges they each go through –study together and communicate in an inclusive environment.

Our hope is that eventually they will turn into prominent makers in Azerbaijan and producers of souvenirs –pottery crafts, woodcrafts, beads and polymer clay crafts, batik and stained glass crafts and so on.

I also want to make a key point here by noting that this centre and all of our work around inclusivity in general is closely supported by the Government of Azerbaijan. Our efforts to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities has received special attention from the Vice-President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Ms. Leyla Aliyeva.

UNDP stands ready to further expand the partnership with government agencies such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and other partners in promoting inclusive and sustainable programmes for people with disabilities.

Inclusivity brings a lot of transformative changes into the lives of people with disabilities, helping them boost their self-worth and improve self-esteem and giving them access to a better quality of life. In an inclusive society, people with varying abilities can enjoy the many benefits of a supportive environment, which, among other things, reduces barriers to effective communication, increases participation in community life and improves independent living skills.

Thank you! Chokh sag olun!

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