Providing for the Needs of Young People with Disability in Lebanon
Lebanon is signatory to, but not ratified, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006). There are difficulties in providing equitable services to young people with disability (PwD). The “old” medical view of disability prevails (Azzi 2012). Government policy displays apathy and inaction. There is ongoing lack of interministerial communication, withholding of information to the community, and limited provision of resources to PwDs (ARTICLE19 2015). Government Law 220/2000 provides for PwDs to register for an ID card; however, there is stigma and shame to be formally labeled as “disabled.” Access to meet essential personal and social needs is limited: to inclusive education; to education provided by skilled, trained, qualified specialist teachers; to curriculum which meets the diverse needs of SEN learners; few schools can provide for SEN learners; few public buildings provide access for those with disability (UNESCO—Beirut 2013). Official reports contain narrow views and recommendations concerning addressing needs (UNESCO—Beirut 2013). A recent national youth policy urges community organizations to reform laws and policies promoting greater inclusion, and overcome exclusive practices including toward PwDs. Employment potential for youth with disability is restricted. With no suitable teacher education programs, available constructive programs are undertaken by privately owned schools and organizations (Jabra 2017). There is some light in this dark ocean of inactivity and apathy. Joseph Nahas is trained in appliance maintenance. Employed in a privately owned school to teach trades to young people, he has developed a program whereby his students work alongside similarly aged students with intellectual impairments. Together they learn to repair and maintain electrical appliances. Ultimately they are equipped to have a meaningful, purposeful career—far beyond the likely life of sitting at home watching TV or wandering the streets. They contribute to their own self-esteem, and effectively to the needs of the community.
KeywordsLebanon Disability Children and youth Effective training Meaningful employment
I wish to offer my sincere thanks to Joseph Nahas and Joanna Jabra for their willingness and time to share their experiences and valuable insights of this aspect of their lives in Lebanon.
I also wish to thank Claudia Orellana for her skillful reviewing and helpful suggestions regarding accuracy of the final text.
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