Roadblocks to education : Differently-abled shunned by campuses

Hundreds of students with disabilities drop out of school every year just because there is a lack of facilities

Wisal Yousafzai April 18, 2022
Differently abled people entering the CM House to meet Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on International Day of People With Disabilities. PHOTO: ONLINE


Rakhshanda Khan’s daily struggle involves being carried to her classes which take place on the third floor of the computer science department at the University of Peshawar - given her disability, little has been done to help her.

Rakhshanda, a computer science major, believes that access to education has been made a nightmare by the government which conveniently overlooks the needs of differently abled students, especially girls. Her father who performs the duty of carrying her to class daily can only protest that ramps have not been built in the university to facilitate students like his daughter. The Express Tribune observed that in the University of Peshawar, which has more than 50 departments, only a few departments have ramps and other facilities for differently abled students - the same holds true for the Agriculture University Peshawar as well.

As per Higher Education Commission (HEC) policies regarding students with disabilities, universities should aim to ensure that differently abled individuals have equal access to all student and academic services. Examples of this, according to the HEC policy, would be assistance in libraries to obtain books, provision of information in large print, access ramps to the buildings and other important academic and recreational areas; dedicated washrooms; dedicated parking areas as per national and international disability code.

However, the policy has fallen on deaf ears, according to Afhsa Afridi, an activist working for the rights of those with disabilities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Afsha, while talking to the Express Tribune termed the situation as “extremely unfortunate.” In a passionate critique of the government and education institutions, Afsha stated: “Hundreds of students with disabilities drop out of school every year just because there is a lack of facilities for them be it missing restroom infrastructure or sign language instructors. It is incredibly hard especially for girls with disabilities to navigate hurdles like the lack of designated restrooms which then leads to their decision of dropping out.”

Afsha was of the view that such deprivation due to lack of infrastructure and focus meant that the government was complicit in robbing young girls of their dreams. Abdullah Khan, Assistant Registrar University of Peshawar, when asked about the plight of differently abled students, said that according to the HEC policy there was one reserved seat for students with disabilities in each department of the university.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2022.


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