Mike Carr Legacy Project

Disability does not define a life; Mike Carr clearly demonstrated that his life was not defined by his disability. Although Mike was paralyzed at a young age, he still enjoyed a successful career with a high-tech company in Seattle where both his technical skills and leadership were highly valued. Mike was a role model to so many those he worked with and those who came to know him. He was a strong advocate for the power of inclusion and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities.

The legacy project in his name was created to provide opportunities for children with disabilities in Ethiopia, the birth country of one of his sons. Children with disabilities there do not lack talent or drive. What they too often lack, however, are the tools needed to develop these talents and to apply that drive. Education remains the key to providing those tools. Unfortunately, educational opportunities for children with disabilities in Ethiopia are rare or in some cases, non-existent.

The goal of the legacy project is to increase awareness of the educational disparities of Ethiopian children with disabilities and to increase educational opportunities for these children so they can become the role models of the future that Mike Carr was during his lifetime.

A study of projects on inclusive education in the majority world revealed that “in developing countries the implementation of inclusive education is basically under- taken by the NGOs instead of a country’s government. In Ethiopia, Kokebe Tsibah primary school in Addis Ababa was the first school to provide educational opportunity for children with disabilities at the end of 1980s.  More schools were opened with time offering special programs for those children.

Efforts to develop inclusive education aiming at the inclusion of children with disabilities in the regular school system was gaining momentum in the beginning of the 21st century. At this period, Addis Ababa has seen an increase in special classes in regular schools for children with visual/hearing and intellectual disabilities. Nevertheless, most special schools as well as regular schools suffer from three major limitations:  1) high number of students, 2) limited material for support and 3) lack of teachers with appropriate education

Recent studies show Ethiopia has no policies/plans that build on the culture and context of the country. It is argued that developing education and disability policies in a more culturally appropriate way might make the policies/plans easier to understand, accept and implement.

A review of policy and project documentation of Ethiopia reveals that the country is moving forward with a mixture of segregated and inclusive education for disabled learners. Available statistics indicate that very few disabled children are receiving quality education in Ethiopia, either through inclusive or segregated education. This opportunity, particularly special schools, is located primarily in urban areas. However, statistics on disability, especially in relation to education, are found to be unreliable. It is recommended that attention could be given to improving the collection of statistical data, Educational facilities for the disabled have been in existence for several decades and they contain investments that should not be lightly discarded. It's also a move which needs reviewing by policy makers in line with the strong commitments to inclusive education Poverty is identified as a barrier in realizing the full potential of disabled kids. Firstly, it influences the children’s parents in supporting their children in their education, which can have far-reaching consequences. Secondly, it constitutes a threat to the children with dis- abilities themselves in cases where their education does not help them to become economically independent after school. Inclusive education is the goal of the Ethiopian Ministry of Education and that the schools are still far from making such an endeavor reality.  Thus, addressing the goal of reaching educational equity through inclusive education should be a priority for Ethiopia.

As part of this project, we launched an inclusion series within our ReadySetGo Books Project that features with kids and adults with different abilities.  We want all kids to get the chance to see themselves in books.

Read more about Mike Carr's life and the tremendous positive effect he had on those he cared for on our blog here.

We also are identifying and sharing resources to increase inclusion for kids with disabilities in Ethiopia starting with these:

  1. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000186564
  2. https://library.oapen.org/bitstream/id/0d32f971-a546-4ebd-99e2-71f4eb9c8f5a/1007027.pdf