By: Dipo Djungdjungan Siahaan, IFES

On June 5 2012, Dr. Derrick Cogburn and his fellow associates from the Institute on Disability and Public Policy of the American University visited the AGENDA office. The purpose of the meeting is to know more about each other institution (AGENDA and IDPP) and to discuss possible future collaboration and partnership between the two institutions.

IDPP is an institution launched in April 2011 which seeks to promote the analysis and understanding of public policy for persons with disabilities. It is founded as part of the American University’s School of International Service and offers the first virtual Master program on disability policy and Master in Comparative and International Disability Policy. The institution targets persons with disability in Southeast Asia region to be their students. They also offer scholarship and fellowship program for students. Right now they are preparing the graduation of students from the first cohort while expecting to welcome new students from the next cohort to start their program this coming July.

It has established cooperation with several universities in the region, including with Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University in the Phiippines, Mahidol University in Thailand, The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, the University of Indonesia and others. It is continuously expanding and looking for new ways to improve themselves by establishing new cooperation, offering new and more interesting courses, providing students with hands-on experience, and giving students the opportunity to learn from the best people.

On the meeting, AGENDA and IDPP explored several areas of collaboration. The first one is on joint-research cooperation. This can be done either by sharing research findings or by doing cooperative research project. The second area of possible collaboration is in the area of giving IDPP students the chance to do internship with AGENDA to provide students with hands-on experience on working within a real organization. The third area is by having AGENDA’s staffs giving online lectures to IDPP students. IDPP is planning to create a one-credit course which focuses more on practical experience rather than theoretical knowledge, and they are looking for people who can provide insights and knowledge on that. Fourth area is by promoting each other activities through the web, twitter or other media.

There are several other areas of collaboration and cooperation. One of them is the possibility of having joint seminar on disability issues which can be done virtually by internet.

The meeting went really well and it seems future collaboration between IDPP and AGENDA is on the card. However, both organizations will need to have further talks and discussions on more specific points before the collaboration can be finalized with an MOU. We are hoping that the collaboration will be beneficial in our effort to promote the rights of disabled people in the region.