Pakistan needs to prioritize Special Education

Image Source: Global Giving – Differently Abled Children in Pakistan

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Man is regarded as a social being and likes to live in groups. Every new born interacts with his/her environment for adaptation and development. Pakistan has 3.2 million population out of which 208 million have different disabilities. The history of Special Education is not very old in our country. At the time of independence, Pakistan had only 3 schools, educating children with disabilities. The First School was established in 1906 to cater to the educational needs of children with Visual Impairment. Pakistan National Policy for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Disabled was formulated in 1985 and improved in 1988.  A rise in the number of disabled is not supported with appropriate tools to identify and integrate them into mainstream society.

Integration is strongly presented as a mechanism for educating children to tolerate and accept people who are different than them. Integration is the best way to overcome prejudices. Any person, group or category of people, which doesn’t have reasonable equal access to such socially desirable commodities as jobs, income, housing and prestige could not be suffering injustice, i.e. not possessing full democratic rights and therefore not fully integrated. Integration is not a treatment; it is to compensate special people for their disadvantages in order that their lives may most closely approach normality.

There is social, policy and financial challenges long faced by differently abled students in Pakistan. A frequent change in special education policies has led to weak administrative structure. Secondly, there are insufficient infrastructure and lack of access to an economically vulnerable disabled person. More than 95% of disabled population does not have special education facilities and this impacts their rehabilitation as productive and useful members of society in Pakistan.

Policy for Persons with Disability:

The process of devising an exclusive policy for the differently abled people in Pakistan began in 1985 and was came to completion in 2002. It was a milestone in the history of policymaking in the country. Provincial Government was guaranteed to take serious steps to provide quality education. For this purpose, a separate ministry of special education was established in Punjab Province. Still, it is a hard fact that since the establishment of special institutions for children with disability, little attention had been paid to them and no one appreciates or highlights their achievements.

Role of Media and Community:

Those who support the idea of mainstreaming, believe that a child with disabilities first belongs in the special education environment and that the child must earn his/her way into the regular education environment. Realizing the importance of community acceptance of the rights of the persons with disabilities. The scheme can support programmes to develop positive community attitude towards learners with disabilities, and to enhance respect for them. These programmes should include educating the media, teachers, peers, and community leaders about the changing views regarding the disabled. The role of media during this is extremely powerful. The media can be used to inform the community regarding the new approaches in education significantly concerning the education of learner with disabilities. The awareness campaign will encourage people to disclose disability of their children at an early age and possibility of treatment at an early age is higher than in later age. Also, people are going to be inspired to pay vital resources on the rehabilitation/treatment of their children to make them helpful and productive citizens of the country.  

Teachers’ role in Special Education:

Teachers are responsible for organizing and monitoring individual student progress by systematically collecting sand recording classroom data, analyzing and synthesizing it so it can inform the ongoing instructional programming and contribute for the development of new learning goals. For this purpose, it is compulsory to hire trained staff who is familiar with the needs of the disabled students and the special teaching material used for them.

A person with a disability lives a hard and a difficult life. They do not have an identity, instead everyone identifies them by their disabilities. We should not judge people with disabilities, just because they are disabled does not mean they are not a part of this world. A social relation is a very challenging environment for the person with disabilities. Most of these people isolate themselves or only interact with the people who have same disabilities.

People in Pakistan need to instill the knowledge about the needs of the disabled children, and more people require training to help them out in their education and lives. Government and Civil society should be promoting the rights of the disabled people in Pakistan through arranging seminars, awareness campaigns as well as providing trainings to the teachers and even parents on how to educate and help the disabled children live a fulfilling life. There is also a need for disability friendly transport and recreational facilities like disability friendly parks to empower the disabled children and adults in Pakistan. All of this will also allow them to be productive citizens of the country in the future.

Author profile

Muneeba Maryam
NA-58 Rawalpindi-II
Member – 17th Youth Parliament Pakistan

Muneeba Maryam is from Rawalpindi, Pakistan. She completed her 14 Years in Education from Viqar-Un-Nisa Women University Rawalpindi affiliated with University of Punjab Lahore. Her Bachelors continued from the same Institute. She has certifications in Spoken English, PITB (Ms-Office), Graphic Designing, Freelancing, E-Commerce Management, Web Development, Search Engine Optimization, Digital Marketing and Content Writing. She is also a member of the Tiger Force. Muneeba believes that through the YPP platform she will learn about the national and local developments and rights & responsibilities of a good citizen. She is a member of the Youth Standing Committee on Foreign Relations – II (Europe & Americas).