President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday emphasized introduction of inclusive education for the disabled children in common schools by equipping the institutes with all required infrastructures and assistive technologies.
Addressing an event on “Improving Access to Assistive Technology” held at Aiwan-e-Sadr in connection with International Day for Persons with Disabilities by Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, World Health Organization and Human Rights Ministry, the president said through inclusive education, the children with different disabilities would acquaint with routine life and challenges which they could not learn in isolated atmosphere.
First Lady Samina Alvi, Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Chairman Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal Aoun Abbas Bappi and special children from different institutes attended the event.
Started with recitation by visually impaired Jawad and Naat by a group also joined by two wheel-chair bound girls, the event also featured the national anthem acted by the special children through sign language.
The beneficiaries of PBM-funded procedures like cochlear implant, artificial limbs and spine kyphosis also expressed their sentiment by speaking high of the organizations concerned which changed their lives altogether.
The president said with a bit modifications and improvements in infrastructure, the hearing, visually or physically-impaired children could easily be amalgamated with the fully capable children.
He said he was in talk with the Federal and Punjab education ministers to launch the initiative of inclusive education from Islamabad. Even the children with autism and other disabilities could also join the same schools after initial training, he added.
He said an ongoing survey by Ehsaas Program would provide exact data of the disabled people to help the government devise policies for their facilitation and mainstreaming.
He endorsed the human rights minister’s call for opting a rights-based approach instead of social welfare for the disabled people. Moreover, he said there was a need for grading of the disabilities to make the government know which kind of facilities the people needed particularly those with multiple disabilities.
The president also strongly advised for changing the societal approach to the special persons to ensure their dignity.
He told the audience that the Presidency had asked all 26 universities falling under its purview to provide free education to the special children.
He said besides, educational facilities, there was a must to introduce matchmaking mechanism to accommodate the special persons for suitable jobs to make them contribute as a functional member of the society.
President Alvi also apprised the gatherings of his and First Lady’s efforts to urge the textile industry and chambers of commerce to employ the special persons and also lauded encouraging response from their side.
He said for future, the approval of commercial building layout plan would be subject to the provision of ramps and toilets for special children; all 235 parks of Islamabad would develop required facilities and the existing buildings would be asked to install movable ramps.
Earlier, in her address, Human Rights Minister Dr Shireen Mazari called for mainstreaming of the special persons and serve them inclusively as their constitutional rights, not a favor.
She deplored the absence of ramps and toilets for special persons in commercial and official buildings even in prisons.
She also highlighted the government’s initiatives like establishment of Center for Autistic Children, a mobile application to guide parents for available facilities, center for early intervention and diagnosis, plan to upgrade schools for deaf and dumb children to graduation level and introduction of much-needed special sports facilities.
She said the parliament had recently passed a bill to protect rights of disable persons necessitating the development of all required facilities for the special persons.
Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal, Chairman Aoun Abbbas Bappi said the country had around 33 million people with disabilities and was suffering a loss worth $11.9 billion per annum owing to their non-participation in economic activities.
He said the PBM had launched a customized wheel chair to be distributed free of charge to 10,000 needy people, initially in 10 district.
He also apprised the audience of other assistive technology equipment like alarm signals, hearing devices, magnifiers, white canes, talking watches, pressure cushions, therapeutic footware and bath seats to be given to the needy disabled people.
He said the PBM had planned to fund cochlear implant to 1500 children which would enable them hear as well as speak.
He said 100 disabled people in Dera Bugti had been distributed prosthetic limbs which enabled them to live a practical life.