The First Lady’s Address at the Education Enables Campaign Introductory Meeting

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The First Lady’s Address at the Education Enables Campaign Introductory Meeting

Distinguished Guests,

In these days, when nature cheers up with the arrival of spring, wraps around myriad colours and penetrates into our souls with the joy of living, it is a great pleasure for me to get together with you in the city of all seasons, especially of spring, and of judas trees, in our beautiful Istanbul.

First of all, I celebrate the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day of our dear children and the whole nation; I would like to thank everyone, particularly our valuable artists, who created this festive atmosphere, and made us and our children cherish this joy of feast today and I greet you all.

They say “to start a work is half of finishing it.” In reality, all beginnings are pleasant, hope-inspiring and exciting. A target is determined and all concentration is focused on that work. But, most of the time, while continuing the work and finishing it, the performance in the beginning may not be seen.

 All beginnings are good, but what is better is to finish your work and to reach your aim.

I am very happy that with this project, we experienced all glories together. Today, we share the legitimate pride and happiness of finishing the work we have started beyond our targets.

I thank everyone who supported us by joining us here, in particular the PM’s wife Emine Erdoğan, ministers, deputies and artists.  Welcome you all.

Distinguished Guests,

The right to education, which is one of the most important achievements of man in thousands of years and which is guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is an innate right for everyone without any difference and distinction.

In this vein, through the legal regulations implemented in our country in recent years, remarkable progress has been made in the educational rights of people with disabilities.

Opportunities offered to our citizens with disabilities by the state have been institutionalized and within the restructured social security system, a special resource for the use of people with disabilities has been allocated.  

For the transfer of these developments on their legal basis into daily life, the civil society has a great responsibility as do the state.  

The reason behind the implementation of the Education Enables Campaign is to create a synergy with the cooperation of the government and the civil society.  

Thanks to this project which aims to raise awareness of the society that people with disabilities can receive education and can be successful in their social lives, we have accomplished much thus far.

From the start of this project in April 2009, the social consciousness about the education of our disabled children has increased with the informational meetings held all over the country. In fact, a campaign for education for the people with disabilities has spread in all of the 81 provinces.

More than 63 thousand families with disabled children have been visited. These families have also been informed about the education opportunities our government provides.

I think that these visits have the biggest share in the success of this project and I want to express my appreciation to all, particularly the Governors, all of whom have lent their corroboration to this campaign. Distinguished Guests,

While holding the introductory meeting of the Education Enables Project 3 years ago at the Çankaya Presidential Palace, we said “There are 8.5 million citizens with disabilities in Turkey, which means we have 8.5 million reasons to get together here.”

Our target that day was to increase the number of people with disabilities who have education by 30%.

I would like to express with a great pride that after all we have done, in three years the ratio of disabled children who receive education increased by 144% and the number of disabled children who have an access to education rose from 150,000 in 2009 to 370,000 today. 

The success achieved through the “Education Enables” Project we have started with great enthusiasm and continued with faith and determination is important but it is not enough of course.

Our effort to include all our children with disabilities in the educational system and help them live in the society as self-sustaining people will continue unabated.

This project showed us that families who confine their children in their houses with the purpose of protecting their children are sensitive about the education of their children and are willing to benefit from the opportunities given to them.

What is important is to convince them and the society that the main obstacle is not the body but people’s minds and to show them with good examples accordingly that children with disabilities who have the opportunity of education can prove to be successful and can contribute to the society.

Mr. Lokman Ayva, founder of our project, is one of the many good examples. He is actually a role model for the disabled. He has contributed a lot to this country. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to him, with the hope that his contributions continue.

There are many other examples of similar success stories here among us whose names I cannot name one by one. We are proud of them all.

To conclude, I would like to thank the Ministry of Education, Family and Social Policies, managers and employees of the Beyazay Association, the project team of the Presidency, who have so far contributed to all these studies.

Finally, I want to thank those who heard our voices and responded to our calls, who let their children go out of the walls and who by doing so add value both to themselves and the country; I want to tell them one last thing:

Do not forget, the only obstacle is lack of education,

Do not forget, education enables...

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