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Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Disabilities Spoke about the Importance of Education on Human Rights

Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disabilities, spoke about the importance of education on Human Rights at the graduation of 37 students from 2 special purpose programmes in the Limerick Institute of Technology on the 19th June 2019, where there was a full house at the Millennium theatre .

Nineteen students graduated from the Leadership, Advocacy and Independent Living course and 18 students graduated from the Campaigning for Human Rights and Equality pilot programme.

Minister McGrath said

“I am delighted to be invited back again to LIT to this year’s graduation ceremony. I really enjoyed it last year and I was very impressed to see the work LIT are doing in developing new courses. Equal opportunity is paramount to what defines a country. In Ireland, we are committed to increasing equity of access to higher education for all students. In building an inclusive society, one of the cornerstones must be equality of opportunity. All students should be given the same opportunity to study on equal terms, regardless of ability or needs”

The Advocacy Leadership and Independent Living programme for people with intellectual disabilities was set up by the LIT in 2009 in partnership with Disability services in the greater Limerick, Clare, Tipperary are North Cork areas. The course runs in 3 LIT campuses; Moylish in Limerick, Thurles in Tipperary and Ennis in Co. Clare. This year saw a new follow-on course piloted in Ennis, Campaigning for Human Rights and Equality. In total 37 students graduated from the 2 programmes on the 19th June bringing the total number of graduates of these programmes to nearly 200.  

Cathy Jones, HOD in Applied Social Sciences stated that

'Our Department is very privileged to host these programmes, it brings richness and diversity to our suite of programmes and allows for co-learning across our students within the Department. For example, our Social Care students hear first-hand about the experiences and wishes of people with disabilities, which will enhance and inform their future practice no end'

Today is a great celebration of the achievement of these 37 students, and we are delighted that our experience of running the Advocacy Leadership and Independent Living course has led to the development of the Campaigning for Human Rights and Equality programme that we piloted in Ennis this year. This was a great success and we are looking forward to rolling it out in Limerick in the next Academic year.

The aim of the programmes is to deliver classes in a college setting that are relevant to the lives of individuals with intellectual disability. The classes assist students in evaluating their own lives and allow them to increase future life expectations. The programmes facilitate students to become more aware of their rights as citizens and to empower them to exercise these rights. A significant part of the programme explores the UNCRPD and the affect it has on the lives of people with disabilities. The programme is tailored each year to the needs of the group and covers the following modules: Advocacy, Human Rights, Citizenship, Community, Capacity and Independence. Material is delivered through lectures, workshops and co-learning assignments with the students of the Applied Social Sciences courses.

The disability services supporting individuals to access the programme include the Brothers of Charity Limerick and Clare, Enable Ireland, Daughters of Charity, RehabCare, Moorehaven Centre, and St. Joseph’s Charleville. Students attend classes at the LIT campus one day per week and are joined in class activities by social care student co-learners as part of the Active Citizenship and Personal Development modules in the social care degree programme.

The programme provides new opportunities and the classes open up another channel of development for people with disability to be fully included in the college community. Most of the students graduating would never have expected to go to college, and their families never would have expected them to either. The 2 programmes have contributed significantly to the LIT community.

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