Strengths of Children with Disabilities Must be Lifted

The Daily Star-ADD-Cordaid, Netherlands roundtable told

Strengths of children with disabilities must be liftedParticipants at a roundtable, “Inclusive Preschool Education for Children with Disabilities: Experiences, Challenges, and Way Forward,” at The Daily Star Centre in the capital yesterday. It was jointly organised by the newspaper and ADD International with support from Cordaid, Netherlands. Photo: Star

Strengths of children with disabilities should be highlighted for creating positive attitude towards the kids and widespread adoption of inclusive education, said discussants yesterday.

Besides policymakers, teachers and the people around them, parents will also have to help such children discover, encourage and promote their potentials to ensure their acceptance in schools as well as in the society, said the discussants at a roundtable on “Inclusive Preschool Education for Children with Disabilities : Experiences, Challenges and Way Forward “.

The Daily Star, and Action on Disability and Development (ADD) with support from Cordaid, Netherlands jointly organised the roundtable at the newspaper’s office building in the capital.

Citing the story of a Chinese animation and software development firm run by people with disabilities, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, consultant to The Daily Star, said such examples should be introduced as case studies in university education to change the perception of the youth.

Researcher Dipti Das presented an ADD study carried out between December 5 and 13 in six out of 15 government primary schools in Dhaka, Tangail and Sirajganj where ADD’s project on inclusive pre-school education was implemented.

The study, conducted on 68 children with disabilities and their teachers, parents and peer groups, revealed parents’ tendency towards hiding information about their children.

Besides, a lack of teaching aids, assistive devices and materials as well as trained teachers, and the high student-teacher ratio stand in the way of providing special care to such children while due to transportation problems many poor parents cannot send their children with special needs to schools, the study stated.

Dilara Sattar Mitu, executive director of the Society for Education of the Intellectually Disabled (SEID), cited their research which was conducted in 2014 on 120 schools of Dhaka and Barisal and showed that 90 of the schools had children with disabilities while 79 of those did not have any trained teacher.

Shahnaj Parvin, deputy director of Inclusive Education Cell, Directorate of Primary Education, stressed the need for coordination among education, social welfare and health ministries to properly identify the problems and needs of such children and help them accordingly.

About insufficient government allowance, which is only Tk 500, given to children with disabilities, Benedict Alo D’Rozario, executive director of Caritas Bangladesh, and Amiya Kumar Chowdhury of Brac shared the idea of community funding for the education of the children which has been helpful in their respective project areas.

Shafiqul Islam, country director of ADD, moderated the roundtable where Khondoker Ariful Islam, country director of Sightsavers, also spoke.

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