“Education is a right to be fought for”- ETR

Maria Alexandrova has become Bulgaria's first person with cerebral palsy to take the English Cambridge Test. Here is how she fights for inclusive education.

“Education is a right to be fought for”

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Maria Alexandrova is an 18-year-old student from Bulgaria 

She lives with cerebral palsy.  

Cerebral palsy is a group of disorders that  

affect person’s ability to move.  

Cerebral means having to do with the brain. 

Palsy means weakness or problems with using the muscles.  

Maria speaks perfect English. 

But she could not take the Cambridge Assessment English  

because it was not accessible to her  

with her physical disability. 

The Cambridge Assessment is an English exam  

organized by the University of Cambridge.  

It is recognized by employees and universities  

as proof of ability to speak English.  

There are exam centres in 130 countries 

Maria moves her arms more slowly than her peers.  

So, it was more difficult for her to complete the exam  

in the limited time required.  

Maria asked the University of Cambridge to 

adapt its Advanced English examination 

to her needs.  

For 3 months, she advocated for  

different examination conditions to  

give her equal chance of gaining this certificate.  

The only difference she advocated for was  

for the writing module of the exam. 

She would be using a computer instead of a notepad.  

Maria never gave up. 

She said 

If you have the drive to accomplish something,  

there is nothing impossible. 

The examining centre finally agreed to  

  • change the timing of the exam, 
  • let her use a computer.  

Weeks later, she successfully passed the exam 

She has become the first person with disabilities in Bulgaria 

to receive this English certificate.  

Maria said:  

“Some people take education for granted,  

simply because it was given to them.  

But for people like me 

education is a right to be fought for”.  

Her fight allows other students with disabilities  

  • to take the exam, 
  • to increase their chances of going to university and finding a job.   

You can watch her story

with English subtitles here:

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