Interview【JICA-RI Focus Vol.22】 Interview with Research Fellow Kamal Lamichhane


"Disability issues" should be addressed in post-2015 development goals: JICA-RI Kamal Lamichhane Research Associate emphasizes;

Dr. Lamichhane, based on his wide range of research on Disability Studies, Inclusive Education, Development Studies, and International Cooperation, states that disability issues should be included as one of the important components for the post-2015 development goals.

Inclusion of People with Disabilities into Society

- Could you talk about your present research and its relevance to your research you had done before joining JICA-RI?

As a researcher on disability studies, I have been engaged in a variety of research with the main emphasis on social inclusion and economic independence. I have been continuing similar researches after joining JICA-RI. The researches indicate that human capital such as education and employment are some of the crucial factors. And if they are made inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities, ultimately they will benefit not only people with disabilities but their poor families and entire society as a whole. In this sense, there is not a big difference on my past and current researches though geographic areas are widened.

- Could you elaborate on the goal and significance of the research you are engaged in?

To put it simply, my goal is to find out how people with disabilities, one of the largest minority and marginalized groups in the process of development, can live as dignified members of the society and enjoy economic independence. For example, what will happen if they are given educational opportunities? The simple answer is: it will empower them, help acquire skills, and they might get confidence with a feeling of “I can do it” for the first time. As a result, it will enable them to enter the labor market just like their counterparts without disabilities. I would like to empirically prove that access to human capital for them is key to improve the quality of their life.

- Is your present research collaborative or individual?

I am one of the members of JICA-RI Project “Evidence-based Analysis for Post-2015 Development Strategies.” In this project, I have been collaborating with researchers from various fields. I have been carrying out research on disability.

Disability and Post-2015 Development Goals

- Could you tell us about the relevance between MDGs, post-MDGs and disabilities?

The ongoing MDGs that set eight goals, systematically have excluded the issues of persons with disabilities, who are considered to be one of the largest minority groups in the world. They included women, but overlooked women with disabilities. They also took up children’s education but children with disabilities are not directly included.
But, what we need to understand is that any development goals, no matter how clear they are, will be unachievable if they fail to include the large segment of people who are not brought in the mainstream of development. Even within the issues such as natural disasters, inequalities and poverty, people with disabilities are one of the most vulnerable groups. The world is heading for post-2015 development goals by learning the lessons from the ongoing MDGs’ strengths and shortcomings. In this sense, inclusiveness of disability among post-2015 development goals is crucial and timely. For this purpose, I would like to examine with my research what we should do to make changes in the lives of people with disabilities and how society can get benefit from those changes.

Research on Disabilities

- Do you have any specific plan to give a presentation on your research findings in the near future?

I just came back from attending the 29th Pacific Rim International Conference on “Disability and Diversity” in Hawaii. I have given a keynote speech entitled “Moving toward Inclusive Development: Disability, Poverty and Employment.” Based on some of the empirical research, I stressed the importance of addressing disability in all development efforts if we aim to reduce poverty especially in low and middle income countries and to achieve sustainable development. As I mentioned earlier, people with disabilities are vulnerable to the risk of falling into poverty trap. However, my research shows that the higher education people with disabilities receive, the greater the likelihood of them escaping from poverty.

Additionally, at the end of May, I will attend another academic conference on disability studies that Nordic Network on Disability Research will organize in Finland. I will make presentation on “Teachers with visual impairments teaching at mainstream schools: a Model for inclusive employment.” Unlike the global historical trend—teaching students with visual impairments by teachers with visual impairments only in special schools—in Nepal, majority of the educated persons with visual impairments take teaching profession at mainstream schools. Compared with other developed countries, Nepal is behind in achieving the quality of life of persons with disabilities. Low level of access to education and labor market is still a great challenge. Teaching by these individuals in local mainstream schools in Nepal, however, can be regarded as an unprecedented and remarkable case. This model can be important evidence for other countries toward creating jobs for qualified individuals with disabilities.

- Lastly, could you tell us about your long-term goal and vision? What would you like to achieve through your study?

My ultimate research goal is to find an answer to the question, “How can people with disabilities be dignified citizens of each country as well as economically self-reliant?” Whatever circumstances are, I believe that human beings are interdependent and each one of us, regardless of any individual differences, has different abilities and strengths. Keeping this in mind, it is necessary to place right persons to right jobs so that they can be valuable to the families and societies. To make it happen, it is important to eliminate discrimination against women and other marginalized people, and more importantly, discrimination against people with disabilities. As a researcher of disability studies and education, it is my responsibility or obligation to conduct further empirical study for the purpose of reducing poverty and increasing the access to human capital for these people.

<Recent interview>

"How education helps achieve economic independence and social inclusion for people with disabilities" (YouTube)
Special Thanks: Kantipur Television, Nepal

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