Education is the key to a successful life
9 May 2014
by Mohammad Yaaseen Edoo
I never went to primary school. The headmaster was not willing to accept me because of my disability. I grew up in Mauritius and had no wheelchair or other accessible transport.
It was the support of an amazing primary school teacher Mr Rishi Bundoo that made all the difference. He helped me tremendously and after nine months of lessons on a voluntary basis, I was able to take my Certificate of Primary Education. I passed with flying colors.
Then I got the chance to go to a mainstream secondary school, with the help of the manager of a school for children with disabilities, Mr Ajay Thacoor, who provided me with an accessible van equipped with a lift for a wheelchair. It was the first time in my life that I was in a class with other children. It was a great and enriching experience for me. I learnt a lot, made friends and felt just like every other student.
At first, the school was not well equipped for wheelchair accessibility. But after a short time, the rector of the school managed to build accessible ramps to facilitate my mobility. Now I could go to different classes and the canteen by myself. All of my classes were transferred from the first floor to the ground floor. Thus, I could easily follow all my classes without the trouble of conquering stairs. As well as that, my classmates and other students, and the teaching and non-teaching staff, helped me tremendously to make my journey a lovely and memorable one.
Making me feel accepted
I received moral support and encouragement from my teachers, lecturers, classmates and all the students of both school and university. They always considered me as a regular person just like them. My disability was never considered a barrier. In fact, we learnt from each other. I inspired them with my perseverance and optimism in life. I received so much love and affection from all of them.
I was able to complete my secondary education at Professor Hassan Raffa State Secondary School in Terre Rouge and went on to university at the Université Des Mascareignes in Beau Plan, Pamplemousses. In 2013, I graduated with a diploma in Information Systems, with a specialisation in multimedia and web technologies. I am now studying for a bachelor's degree in multimedia and web technologies.
Becoming a leader
I am also the leader of Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices in Mauritius. We are a group of young people with disabilities who speak out for disability rights. I have carried out many campaigns on disability issues in Mauritius. The call for governments and schools to provide inclusive education for disabled students is one of our strongest. We make our voices heard through the media, including newspapers and the radio.
I was honored to be nominated by A World at School to be a Global Youth Ambassador for Education, along with 500 other youth leaders from around the world. I am looking forward to campaigning in my community, my country and across the globe to get every child into school and learning. You can imagine how humble I felt when my nomination as a Global Youth Ambassador was discussed at a cabinet meeting attended by the prime minister of Mauritius! It was even broadcast on our national TV and radio stations.
I’ve come a long way from where I started, and education was the key to get where I am now. And I couldn't have achieved all this without the constant support and encouragement from my parents and little sister. They have always been there for me.
My next big task will be to find a job so that I can live independently and stand on my own — just like any other young person in the world. I will continue to advocate for the right to education for persons with disabilities with my fellow Young Voices campaigners, and we will use all the tools available to make sure our voices are heard.
We are young. We are dedicated. We are powerful.
Mohammad Yaaseen Edoo is leader of Leonard Cheshire Disability Young Voices Mauritius.
Leonard Cheshire Disability is supporting the Global Campaign for Education’s Global Action Week. Find out how you can get involved.