Only 5% disable persons have access to present schooling system: conference told

KARACHI: Experts called for making proper legislation through national and provincial assemblies to ensure provision of rights to disable people that include inclusive education for all in Pakistan’s schooling system, their access to all official and private buildings, parks and other recreational places for making an inclusive society to reduce the sense of inferiority among these special people.

They were speaking in a conference entitled “National Conference on Inclusive and Quality Education for all in Pakistan” organized by Disable Welfare Association of Pakistan (DWAP) in collaboration with provincial department of Social Welfare and Community Based Inclusive Development Network (CBID) at a local hotel on Tuesday.

The conference was attended by a large number of representatives from Punjab and Sindh’s governments including Karachi’s Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqi, DSW Sindh’s Secretary Shariq Ahmed Khan, MQM’s MNA Ms Kishwar Apa, PPP’s Javaid Nagori, Punjab Social Welfare Trust’s Director Izhar Hashmi, SightSavers International’s Country Director Muniza Gilani, Javed Raees, University of Management and Technology’s (UMT) Prof Abdul Hameed and CBID’s Shahnawaz Hashmi.

The program was aimed at spreading awareness in civil society about inclusive education system that could be approved from Sindh Assembly and provincial education department through concrete discussion with legislators and government officials for benefiting the ignored section of the society. Prof A Hameed said, in Pakistan, only 5% people with disabilities are being educated in present schooling system, while 95 percent people have no access to the schools.

He said Punjab government had taken the pivotal initiatives for children with disabilities and had made policy and included sufficient funds for promoting inclusive educations system in the province, while Sindh government had not taken action in this regard.

He said inaccessibility issue is the main reason for those special children who were unable to get education from government’s special education schools which were far from their houses up to 3 to 12 km as per a survey in Punjab.

Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed said that viewing the importance of access of these special children to all governmental institutions, he had constructed a lift for disable persons in Commissioner Office so that they could easily reach the office. He said he had already written an official letter to Sindh Building Control Authority requesting them to bound all stakeholders and construction contractors to ensure the accessibility for all including people with different disabilities.

Ms Kishwar said, there is dire need to remove all barriers including communication barrier, physical barrier and attitude barriers. She said Pakistan had passed one ordinance in the tenure of former President General Zia-ul-Haque which could not be implemented. She said she is committed to pass the ordinance of quota in assemblies for special persons as they are also the citizens of country.

DSW Sindh’s Secretary Shariq said they had achieved lots of targets for benefiting the special children where their 17 rehabilitation centres are providing quality education to special children. He regretted that parents of special children are not cooperating with the department when they offered them to send their children to the rehabilitation centres.

Izhar Hashmi said there is need of flexible environment, accessibility, and positive attitude of society to accept the special children.

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