Bigger budget for differently-abled

CM announces jump from Rs800 million to Rs1.7 billion

Our Correspondent June 12, 2022
A child with autistism peers from between curtains. PHOTO: REUTERS


The provincial government will more than double the budget of the Sindh Persons with Disabilities department in the upcoming budget for the Financial Year 2022-2023.

This was announced by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah as he inaugurated the Center for Autism Rehabilitation and Training (C-ART) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Korangi.

He stated that the budget would be increased from Rs800 million to Rs1.7 billion in the next budget so that more facilities could be provided for special education and rehabilitation.

The ceremony was attended by CM's Adviser Manzoor Wassan, provincial ministers Sharjeel Memon, Shahela Raza, Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab, Sadiq Memon Waqar Mehdi, Sindh Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput and others.

Shah appreciated C-ARTS on growing from strength to strength. "I had inaugurated the first C-ARTS facility in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and now here at Korangi, I am with a third set up under its umbrella," he said. Shah added that C-ARS was now providing services to over 300 individuals with autism free of cost.

Shah stated that the trait which made C-ARTS unique was that they provide all services required by children with autism under one roof. "Children are the main focus of C-ARTS.They do provide training to the parents also, as autism ultimately doesn't happen to an individual. It happens to a family and requires the full support of all the child caregivers," he said.

"Today, we have inaugurated C-ARTS Adult and the ADHD Center, which will train over 150 individuals with autism for employment so that they become contributing members of society," the chief minister said. He continued that the center would also cater to children with ADHD.

"The distinct feature of this center is that it is a collaboration between rehabilitative and skilled experts with the corporate sector," he said. Shah hoped that the model would go a long way to create sustainable employment for this population. "They will be role models for others.

Shah bemoaned that that in Pakistan, there was a dearth of professionals who were appropriately qualified to work with individuals suffering from Autism. "Thus, C-ARTS also acts as a training facility for these professionals to receive the experience and training required to execute their duties to the best of their abilities," he said. 

The CM said that the C-ARTS' first satellite facility in Hyderabad has also started providing state-of-the-art services to individuals with autism. He added that to this end, he was allocating a bigger facility and budget so that the satellite could be expanded into a full-fledged center of excellence such as the one in Karachi.

The CM said that besides C-ARTS facilities, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD), in collaboration with its partners, was evolving to cope with the needs of rehabilitation, education, and employment of differently-abled persons of all categories.

"Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 was a major step towards achieving rights for differently-abled persons as per UN Conventions on Rights of Persons with Disabilities," Murad Ali Shah stated that through the act, all major disabilities have been defined in detail. "This is a major departure from earlier federal and provincial laws that recognised only four categories of physically impaired, visually impaired, hearing impaired and mental retardation.

The CM said that the act was a major improvement upon these as it specified autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette, Down, Rett, and other syndromes and neurological disorders.

Shah said that his government has provided relaxation on the age limit and qualifications for employment for differently-abled persons. He added that the categories of jobs suitable for differently-abled persons have also been provided.

The chief minister announced an increase in the development portfolio of the department from Rs800 million to Rs1.7 billion from the next financial year, 2022-23. "Major projects to be constructed include the construction of 17 new Special Education & Rehabilitation Centers and reconstruction/rehabilitation of 13 existing centres.

Shah outlined that added capacity building of existing centres would also be completed through the provision of equipment and staffing. CM's Special Assistant Sadiq Memon, speaking on the occasion, said that new autism centres were being established in Shaheed Benazirabad, Matiari, Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpurkhas.

"Children enrolled at Special education centers were being provided a stipend of Rs2000 per month, free transportation, and lunch. He stated that in addition, under the Social Protection Initiative Special Fund, Rs.250 million has been allocated for differently-abled persons.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 12th, 2022.



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