Children with minor disabilities will now be educated at general public schools instead at those run by the Special Education Department, Special Education Secretary Abdullah Sumbal said on Monday.
He was speaking at a meeting with the divisional commissioner to review the implementation of inclusive education policy in Faisalabad division.
Sumbal said under the new policy children with mild to moderate disabilities would no longer be required to attend special education schools. He said competing with children at Education Department schools would help boost the confidence of children with disabilities like partial impairment of vision or hearing or polio.
He said so far these children had to attend special education schools because other public schools lacked facilities required for them.
The secretary said teachers at selected public schools would be trained for the task by master trainers of Special Education Department. “Schools with relatively better infrastructure and teaching staff will be shortlisted for the purpose,” he said.
The secretary said those studying at the primary- and middle-school level would be admitted to public schools under the initiative. In the first phase, 15 seats would be set aside for children with minor disabilities in each of the eight divisional public schools in the province.
Commissioner Tahir Hussain assured the special secretary that arrangements would immediately be made for enrolling 15 such children at the Faisalabad DPS in the new academic year.
The secretary said these children would continue to benefit from the facilities the government was providing to those studying in schools run by the Special Education Department. These include lodging and boarding allowance, pick and drop from home to school, weekly supply of milk and a monthly stipend of Rs200.
The secretary said a census would soon be started to update statistics about children of school-going age with disabilities. He said teams would be formed to conduct surveys at village and mohallah (neighbourhood). He said the current estimate of the number of these children of in the province was around 600,000.
Rs15m allocated for setting up recreational facilities
The secretary said Rs15 million had been allocated in the annual development programme for setting up recreational facilities for children with disabilities.
He said the Parks and Horticulture Authority had already selected two eight-kanal plots for the purpose in Lahore, one at Lawrence Gardens and other at Race Course Park.
He said a plantation campaign would also be started at these spots where children with disabilities would themselves plant and look after saplings provided by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2012.