Dean Biklen honored in Kuwait with UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will present Syracuse University’s School of Education Dean Douglas Biklen with the 2011 UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize, honoring him for his work promoting quality education and equal opportunity for persons with educational disabilities. Biklen will accept the award at a ceremony on Feb. 29, hosted by the government of Kuwait.
For more than 40 years, Biklen has inspired families and supported researchers to advance the well-being and educational opportunities for students with disabilities. His books and films, such as “Achieving the Complete School” (1985), “Schooling without Labels” (1992) and “My Classic Life as an Artist” (2004), have changed perceptions of people living with disability while having a significant impact on families struggling with disability. UNESCO chose to honor Biklen with this award because of the broad, global impact his work has had on the education, communication and quality of life for individuals and families living with disability. His cumulative works have inspired researchers and educators to go above and beyond traditional tactics of inclusive education, and as a result his work has affected human rights and policies internationally.
“UNESCO’s recognition of Doug Biklen’s international leadership in scholarship and advocacy for persons with educational disabilities is so well deserved,” says Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Doug is a consummate publicly engaged scholar, partnering with cross-sector collaborators both to advance scholarship and to make a tremendous impact on lives here and now locally, nationally and globally. Through his own extraordinary work and by catalyzing exceptional work by others from the School of Education, across the University, and national and international communities of scholars, he has extended SU’s historic, leading role in promoting inclusive education as educational best practice.”
Kuwait’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Ambassador Ali Al-Tarrah said, in statements to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA), the award shows that the State of Kuwait shares UNESCO’s care for the efforts to improve the quality of education for persons with disabilities. He said, “Candidates from 22 countries are vying for the 2011 prize, which materializes the global significance of the prestigious prize.”
UNESCO created the Emir Jaber al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize in 2002 with the Government of Kuwait, and has honored two individuals every two years, one selected from the Arab States and the other from another part of the world. The prize recognizes outstanding accomplishments in promoting quality education for persons with intellectual disabilities, and comes with a $40,000 award, typically divided between the two recipients. However, because of the significance of his work in school inclusion, Biklen was selected as the sole laureate this year. The ceremony will be held at Kuwait University and will include an address by H.E Falah Al-Hajraf, the minister of education and higher education, a speech by Biklen and an artistic show by students with disabilities.
Biklen says he hopes this prize will further advance disability studies and draw attention to the growing inclusive education movement across the globe. “Hopefully it will help shine a spotlight on the international inclusion movement and allow more opportunities to connect with educators internationally,” Biklen says. “I envision an international movement to recognize the importance of educational innovation to address cognitive differences, all without labeling children as intellectually impaired.”
For more information about Biklen and his work in disability studies, read his interview with UNESCO.