Fundacion Universia, with the support of Santander, has launched the #SOMOS campaign, a global action for equitable quality higher education.
Ensuring that students with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else is key to society's future. Accordingly, at Fundacion Universia, with the backing of Santander, we are seeking a real change that will enable us to eliminate architectural, social and technological barriers so that people with disabilities can gain access to inclusive quality university education.
To this end, we have launched the #SOMOS campaign, through which we encourage adherence to the "La clase somos todxs" (the class is all of us) manifesto, which aims to tackle the educational challenges included in the UN's Sustainable Development Goals with respect to the Education 2030 Agenda.
Fundacion Universia drafted the manifesto with support from María Soledad Cisternas, the former chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility.
The head of Fundacion Universia, Sonia Viñas, believes "it is important to tackle the educational challenges of the 2030 Agenda, which encourages us to lead Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4): ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all."
For an inclusive quality university education
Through the #SOMOS initiative, we aim to speak up for inclusive education and in particular to support equality in the university community. Because, as the campaign leaders say, "many students with disabilities are separated from their fellow students in the classroom, undermining their self-esteem and their university experience in general."
Disabled students make up 1.5% of the total number of students enrolled at Spanish universities, which translates into a total of 22,190 university students in 2018, according to the Fundacion Universia Guidelines on Assistance to People with a Disability.
These students demand greater empathy and awareness from the student community with a view to gradually encouraging a "more inclusive and less paternalistic view of their difference", as highlighted in our 4th Study on University and Disability. Carried out in collaboration with CERMI, the ONCE Foundation, the Spanish Royal Board on Disability and CRUE.
Looking at this situation, we must consider what kind of education we want for these young people, since, as Sonia Viñas points out, "if education is not inclusive, it is not quality. But, what is more, if education is not inclusive, it is not education”.