In its first budget after becoming a separate ministry last year, the Sindh Special Education Department is expected to present a budget proposal of around Rs4 billion rupees for the fiscal year 2012-13 with Rs1.4 billion set aside for six development schemes.
The special education wing was created within the Sindh Education and Literacy Department in 2006, and was given the department status in October 2011. Imtiaz Shaikh was appointed as the adviser to chief minister on special education to run the department, and is seeking a budget for the first time.
In April, the department had issued a draft of its ten-year policy for special education in the province. The plan was prepared by a team of academic experts, special education teachers, non-government organisations and people with special needs.
Most of the department’s 48 special education schools in the province are in a dilapidated state while others have been occupied by government departments and law enforcement agencies. The department plans that an estimated Rs400 million will be spent on repair and renovation at 43 of the existing schools, including transportation vans, furniture, toilets and sanitation.
Five schools each in divisional headquarters – Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpurkhas – will be converted into “centres of excellence” at an estimated cost of Rs400 million. These centres will provide in-service training programmes, research work and advanced training courses for the teachers, professionals and workers associated with special education.
In the budget proposal, the department has set aside Rs60 million for the capacity-building and training of heads and teaching staff at its 48 schools.
The department has chalked out an extensive plan to push out its network to the suburban level. A special education school will be established in each taluka of the province, adding around 100 more schools in the province at an estimated cost of Rs450 million.
For another Rs60 million, the department plans to set up an information and communication technologies (ICT) web-based data centre, information technology labs and staff training, followed by computer-aided education for special children. Another Rs60 million will be set aside to create general awareness regarding disabled people including, mass level guidance, prevention and care.
Imtiaz Shaikh said that a separate education board has also been proposed for the students with special needs, which would facilitate in reducing the students’ problems related to exams and assessments. The department also plans to take up the responsibility to provide students with uniforms, educational material and lunch.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.