Disability fails to deter graduate

HAVING hearing disabilities has not discouraged 26-year-old Etika Naqio from achieving higher education studies, something he dreamt of while growing up.

Yesterday, Mr Naqio, commonly known as Eve, proved everyone wrong when he graduated with a Certificate IV in youth works from the Australia Pacific Technical College (APTC) in Suva.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Naqio said people with hearing disabilities could read and write provided they had access to education.

“I first learned about APTC from the Fiji Association of the Deaf where I was a project officer,” he said.

“One of my responsibilities was to pick application forms from the Wainivula office for our deaf members who were interested in taking up courses at the college.

“When I looked at the courses offered, I saw the youth works course and I decided to apply when other deaf alumni students raved on about how much they enjoyed learning at APTC.

“I applied and was very happy because I got accepted. Also, APTC paid for the interpreting services for me and with this, I am very thankful to the Australian Government for supporting the education in the Pacific, especially for not leaving the deaf or students with disabilities behind.”

As a disabilities student, Mr Naqio shared how challenging communication was for him.

“But the environment at APTC was very friendly as the college had zero tolerance for discrimination or simply disrespect for students. Now, I am working with the LGBT community and the disability youth committees to ensure that the voices of young people with disabilities and minorities are heard in many forums nationally, regionally and internationally.

“My biggest achievement was participating in the Adi Senikau pageant last year and the youth parliament early this year. With this, I am forever thankful to the Australian Government for giving me this opportunity.”

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