“Give us the opportunity to take care of ourselves.”

Voice of a student with special needs on graduation day.

“Having an education gives us the opportunity to have a job to support ourselves without burdening anyone.”

‘Maprang’ or Ms. Jidapha Nitivirakul, emphasized the importance of ‘opportunity’ with a powerful speech on the ‘Youth Talk’ stage on the topic ‘EEF and the Opportunity for Access to Quality Education.’ She spoke as a representative for 123 scholarship students from 10 institutions under EEF’s High Vocational Innovation Scholarship Program for students with special needs generation 2 who graduated in 2022.

Maprang recently graduated with a vocational certificate from Pattaya Redemptorist Technological College for People with Disabilities, Chonburi province, majoring in Digital Business Technology. She tried to make the most of her brief time on stage to convey to educational institutions, businesses, fellow students in the auditorium, and everyone in society just how important ‘educational opportunities’ are to her and others who live in the often neglected areas of this country.

“I am on this stage to tell everyone that many people still lack access to education, especially in remote areas where opportunities are even more limited. And let’s speak specifically about people with disabilities. I believe we are all well aware that many families do not even know that some schools or universities accept people with disabilities. This is the crucial explanation of why a repetitive cycle occurs, making many of us confine ourselves at home. Starting from the lack of knowledge, we cannot take care of ourselves, so we daren’t go anywhere. We never see or know about the outside world, equivalent to not having an opportunity to live life.”

“Therefore, I want everyone to have the opportunity to access education, to increase the likelihood that we can rely on ourselves and go out and live life just like everyone else.”

“Alternative Education” is the key to unlocking constraints.

Maprang stated that the full five years she spent at Pattaya Redemptorist Technological College were a “turning point” and a “space of opportunity” for her to practice and refine her skills and try various things independently to prepare herself for life outside the academic institution. Maprang never turned down any opportunity that came her way, which enabled her to discover and express herself fully. This included representing Thailand at the ‘Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities (GICT 2019)’ in Busan, South Korea, where she won one gold medal and two silver medals. In 2020, she received the ‘Royal Student Award,’ and in 2021, the ‘Outstanding Girl with Disabilities Award’ on International Women’s Day. These awards are her pride and motivate her to strive for endless self-improvement continually.

However, even though today’s educational opportunities for people with special needs have broadened in many aspects when speaking with Maprang after the Youth Talk, she still saw certain limitations that she would like educational institutions to help unlock so that the path from education to a career for her and her peers can progress closer to the ideal of ‘equality.’

Maprang said, “It’s true that we can access more opportunities than before, but within the scope of this ‘more,’ I think we are still far from truly opening up all opportunities.”

Therefore, Maprang appealed to society, saying that if educational management covered a wider range of options, both in terms of the number of institutions and the fields of study offered, many more learners with special needs, as well as those living in remote areas or from underprivileged families, would have greater opportunities to live and fully express their potential.

“Give us the opportunity to learn because nobody can care for us forever.”

The final point made by this enthusiastic new graduate from Pattaya Redemptorist Technological College was about parental support. Maprang said she had a fully supportive family, eventually making many seemingly impossible things achievable.

“Looking back to the beginning, I believe that no family starts with more information than another. In my case, my parents were determined to find support and insisted it was possible. Therefore, they sought information in every way possible, contacting almost every institution until they found schools open to admissions. Even though we had information and experience, every time we had to transition to a new educational level, it felt like we were starting all over again. I believe that the confidence and effort of the parents are very important forces.”

Even though Maprang struggled more than the average person to access education, she said, “As long as my parents continue to support and back me, I will never fear.” Therefore, what she wants to tell the parents of other peer students with special needs is about opening themselves up for opportunities.

“Don’t worry beforehand that your children will struggle, or assume that after they graduate, they won’t be able to work, or stick to the belief that why bother to look for hardship when staying comfortable at home is best. Who will eventually take care of them?”

“I believe that the thoughts and actions of parents greatly affect us and what we can do. For example, I have muscular weakness and can barely help myself, but my mother was firm and sent me to a boarding school from the age of 7. Of course, every parent worries and feels sorry for their child, but don’t forget that at the school, we have caretakers, learning processes designed for us, spaces, and situations that teach us how to survive, adapt, and help ourselves as much as possible. Even if we can’t do everything ourselves, at least give us the chance to try our best.”

“I want every parent to understand that despite our flaws and deficiencies, we can do many things as good as or even better than ordinary people. Most importantly, parents must realize that no one, even themselves, can care for us forever. One day, we all must learn to live on our own. Therefore, the best thing parents can provide is the opportunity for us to grow and try and make mistakes like everyone else. Parents must be the first line of support to inspire us to access these opportunities.”

“If you do not support and encourage your children to grow according to their interests, over time, they will become more disconnected from society, not wanting to go anywhere, meet anyone, and unable to do anything themselves. I believe that no one achieves anything without a struggle. Therefore, for us to live independently, parents need to be strong, a solid pillar supporting their children from a distance, and they must believe that everyone is capable of developing themselves.”

Credit: Rawis Larha | Content and Writer Production Officer
Source: (Innovation Scholarship Program for students with special needs) “Give us the opportunity to take care of ourselves” ‘Maprang’ Jidapha Nitivirakul


Others Impact Stories

Go to Top