Volume 9 Issue 9 - July 15, 2012

Getting C.R.P.D. to the national disability movements: The ‘T.o.T.A.L.’ approach

It has been 6 years since the world got the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (C.R.P.D.). And though the Convention is a visionary and paradigm changing instrument, for long it has been felt that its true implementation will be possible only when the leaders at the grassroots understand and apply C.R.P.D. in their work. International Disability Alliance (I.D.A.), has taken a pilot project called Training of Trainers, Advisors and Leaders (T.o.T.A.L.) in three regions across the world in an effort to provide intensive training to leaders from the disability movement and others on the implementation and monitoring of C.R.P.D. Dorodi Sharma of D.N.I.S. writes about T.o.T.A.L. South Asia which was held in New Delhi from June 29 to July 8.

A popular refrain that we get to hear in the disability sector about the implementation of C.R.P.D. is about its impact on the grassroots. It is assumed that the people involved in disability issues in Geneva and New York are well-acquainted with it. But does this knowledge percolate down? And if not, then how will C.R.P.D. be implemented? After all, it is a given that the processes in New York and Geneva and the international scene at large, though important, can only do that much and not more. The answer then lies with getting the people at the country level and even lower down to the provinces and the districts to understand, imbibe and practice C.R.P.D. in everything that they do. The Convention, after all, is an amazing human rights tool for people with disabilities and there can be no two ways about it.

International Disability Alliance (I.D.A.), a coalition of 8 global disabled peoples organisations and 4 regional ones, has been working in providing technical expertise to national disability movements in implementation and monitoring of C.R.P.D. It was soon felt that there needs to be a pool of talent that is locally, nationally and regionally available who understand the letter and spirit of C.R.P.D. and who can in turn, train others on the Convention. This would then do away with the dependence of country level disability movements on international experts, who more often than not, have to be flown in from far away. These experts may have the know-how on C.R.P.D. but not the lived in knowledge and experience of local experts on the geo-political and socio-economic processes that play an equally important part.

With this in mind, I.D.A. has started a pilot project called Training of Trainers, Advisors and Leaders (T.o.T.A.L.). This is an intensive, in-house training for national leaders on C.R.P.D. divided in 2 Modules. The first T.o.T.A.L. was held in Delhi from June 29 to July 8. The other two will be held in Pacific and West Africa.

In the South Asia Module 1 in Delhi, around 20 participants from India, Nepal and Philippines participated. Gabor Gombos, Member of C.R.P.D. Committee; Javed Abidi, Chairperson of Disabled Peoples International; and Moosa Salie, Chairperson of World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry spoke at the inaugural. Gombos gave the C.R.P.D. Committees point of view and how they depend on civil society reports to get a balanced picture of the ground realities. State Reports do not address what it means to be a disabled person in the country, he said.

Abidi welcomed the participants of Philippines and Nepal to India and hoped that they will have a fruitful workshop. It is important for all of us to have a cross-disability perspective and this workshop will help us in understanding the concept, he said. C.R.P.D. will ultimately be implemented at the grassroots, he added.

Moosa Salie reiterated this point. Test of the success of C.R.P.D. is how people at the grassroots will be able to realise it, he said.

The training was conducted primarily by Alexandre Cote, Capacity Building Programme Manager of I.D.A. Gabor Gombos and Moosa Salie were also part of this workshop and the participants benefitted from their expertise and experience at various sessions. G. Syamala, Executive Director, Action for Abilities Development and Inclusion (A.A.D.I.), New Delhi also took a session on A.A.D.I.s journey from a special school to the current belief in inclusive education.

The Module 1 was divided into 2 parts: 7 days of Common Track for everyone and another 3 days for Trainers and Advisors only. The Common Track included sessions on C.R.P.D. negotiations, the meaning of all rights of all people with disabilities, understanding the text of the Convention, obligations of the State Parties, the principles of equality and non-discrimination, etc. This track covered some articles of C.R.P.D. such as on accessibility, legal capacity, living in the community, employment and social protection, etc. There was also a session on monitoring of C.R.P.D., parallel reporting and Universal Periodic Review (U.P.R.). The workshop had several assignments, including role-playing ones. The track for trainers and advisors included further assignments and evaluations.

It was an exhaustive training for both trainees and trainers, but an enriching one. However, the pilot also threw up several issues which will need to be fine tuned in the future modules to ensure that the training meets its objectives. One problem that stood out was the disparity in the level of understanding between the participants. While some of them were well versed with C.R.P.D. and had been exposed to the international processes, some had difficulty in handling some concepts. The language barrier was also a problem as the training was conducted in English.

Another hurdle that became obvious was that most of the participants chose the Trainer track. However, there is a vast difference between being a leader and being a good trainer. This would of course create problems in evaluation and certification. These problems can be dealt with by ensuring that in the remaining pilots, more attention is given to the profile of the participants and an attempt is made to get people who have a proven track record, a leadership base at home and who in turn will be able to go and pass on the learning to the movement.

Although, a few shortcomings were noticed, it was quite expected as this is a first of its kind of an initiative and Delhi was the first pilot. The problems though significant are not something that cannot be worked out. The relevance of this kind of a workshop cannot be overemphasised. At the same time, it also needs to be kept in mind that this effort has to be complemented by the national movements by grooming more and more leaders and foot soldiers who can take C.R.P.D. to the remotest part of their regions.

If the participants are unable to share this knowledge, this will end up becoming yet another training on C.R.P.D. And that would indeed be a pity.

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