Kuwait re­ceives wide­spread praise for Amir Jaber prize at UNESCO

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - KUNA

Kuwait was given wide­spread praise and com­men­da­tion Fri­day for its com­mit­ment to help­ing the dis­abled on oc­ca­sion of the award­ing of late Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah prize for ‘Dig­i­tal Em­pow­er­ment of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties.’

In a cer­e­mony at UNESCO head­quar­ters, Kuwait’s long-term con­tri­bu­tion to this event and its per­sis­tence in help­ing to fa­cil­i­tate and im­prove life for the dis­abled was high­lighted by UNESCO of­fi­cials and other par­tic­i­pants.

The award cer­e­mony was at­tended by Amir Jaber’s own son, Sheikh Mubarak Jaber Al-Ah­mad Al-Sabah, who con­veyed the greetings and sup­port of His High­ness the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and the Kuwaiti gov­ern­ment, which was rep­re­sented by Ed­u­ca­tion Un­der­sec­re­tary Haitham Al-Athari. Also in at­ten­dance were Kuwaiti Am­bas­sador Sami Al-Su­laiman and UNESCO Am­bas­sador and Per­ma­nent Del­e­gate Dr Mishal Hayat.

En­cour­age­ment

Sheikh Mubarak un­der­lined that dis­abled peo­ple needed en­cour­age­ment and sup­port, hail­ing ef­forts to help them tran­scend ob­sta­cles to their devel­op­ment. He noted that “one bil­lion peo­ple are hand­i­capped in the world, and 15 per­cent of kids are hand­i­capped. “They have a right to train­ing,” he re­marked, not­ing that “all in­for­ma­tion can now be trans­mit­ted through dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy.”

Speak­ing on be­half of UNESCO, Di­rec­tor for Com­mu­ni­ca­tion and In­for­ma­tion Sec­tors In­drahit Ban­er­jee stressed the im­por­tance of Kuwait’s con­tri­bu­tion to help­ing pro­mote “sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in tech­nol­ogy” des­tined to help those with dis­abil­i­ties. “This prize high­lights the value of Kuwait’s role and the mo­bi­liza­tion for peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties,” Ban­er­jee told par­tic­i­pants. Kuwaiti Am­bas­sador to UNESCO, Dr Mishal Hayat, pointed out that Kuwait has “spon­sored this prize since 2002 and it is awarded ev­ery two years.” He fur­ther stated that it was now de­cided to ex­tend the prize “for an­other six years” and that “it has been ex­tended to cover all dis­abil­i­ties,” and not just men­tal health is­sues.

$40,000

The Amir Jaber award is val­ued at $40,000 and is split equally be­tween an in­di­vid­ual and an NGO, or As­so­ci­a­tion. This year, the award was given to Dr Alireza Darvishy, a vis­ually-im­paired Swiss re­searcher, who has de­vel­oped a dig­i­tal ap­pli­ca­tion to per­mit blind peo­ple “knowl­edge ac­cess” through an in­clu­sive dig­i­tal sys­tem that has proven its use­ful­ness and looks cer­tain to have a broad dis­sem­i­na­tion. In ac­cept­ing the $20,000 award, Darvishy said he is “will­ing to work with all coun­tries” to help oth­ers and im­ple­ment his ap­pli­ca­tion.

The sec­ond re­cip­i­ent was the ‘Ti­flonexos Aso­ci­a­tion’, an Ar­gen­tine as­so­ci­a­tion that has con­structed a mas­sive li­brary that is ac­ces­si­ble to the blind. The Ar­gen­tine NGO has com­piled 7,000 books for its li­brary and has linked up 300 other or­ga­ni­za­tions on its net­work. All prize re­cip­i­ents thanked Kuwait for its gen­eros­ity and en­cour­age­ment and said that the award was a boost to their work to help the dis­abled.

UNESCO’s Deputy Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Edouard Ma­toko ex­pressed to Kuwait the grat­i­tude of his or­ga­ni­za­tion and the ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral Irina Bokova, who was un­for­tu­nately not able to at­tend be­cause of a com­mit­ment abroad.

Re­call­ing that the Amir Jaber prize has been awarded since 2002 and was an im­por­tant event on the cal­en­dar, he also said that Kuwait was a na­tion that has “cham­pi­oned many causes” to help the dis­ad­van­taged.

Only prize

Dr Hayat un­der­lined the unique­ness of the Amir Jaber prize, not­ing “it is the only prize of its kind in the UNESCO, and even the United Na­tions sys­tem, com­ing af­ter the UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties (UN­CRPD), and which seeks to help the in­te­gra­tion of hand­i­capped in so­ci­ety.”

The Kuwaiti award co­in­cided with the 10th an­niver­sary of the UN­CRPD and also comes at the same time as the In­ter­na­tional Day for Per­sons With Dis­abil­i­ties, which fell yes­ter­day. Dr Hayat said the ob­jec­tive now was “to use dig­i­tal, elec­tronic means to fa­cil­i­tate equal­ity be­tween dis­abled and nor­mal peo­ple.”

Us­ing these mod­ern means is a tool to help in “knowl­edge ac­qui­si­tion,” the Kuwaiti of­fi­cial added. “Knowl­edge is very im­por­tant and that is why we try to use the most mod­ern means via the struc­ture of com­mu­ni­ca­tions here at UNESCO,” he added.

He pointed out that Kuwait also wanted more broadly to sen­si­tize peo­ple to the ques­tion of dis­abil­i­ties and how to best help hand­i­capped peo­ple. “The ques­tion of dis­abil­i­ties in Kuwait is some­thing we have been work­ing on for many decades and we have many rules and laws to pro­tect hand­i­capped peo­ple and we have passed new laws in the past cou­ple of years to give in­cen­tives and even oblige both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor to hire hand­i­capped per­sons,” he in­di­cated. “It is very im­por­tant when we cohsider male-fe­male equal­ity, we have to also in­te­grate the hand­i­capped into so­ci­ety and treat them like nor­mal peo­ple be­cause they have abil­i­ties bet­ter than many oth­ers,” the Kuwaiti of­fi­cial stated.—

PARIS: Kuwait is rec­og­nized by the UNESCO for the Amir Sheikh Jaber Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber AlSabah prize for ‘Dig­i­tal Em­pow­er­ment of Per­sons with Dis­abil­i­ties.’ —KUNA

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