Neglected: Promotion of both inclusive and special education is imperative, says Sarwar

British Council Pakistan organises policy dialogue at the Governor’s House.

Our Correspondent November 17, 2014

LAHORE: Pakistan has enshrined in its Constitution the right of all children to get quality education and a safe and healthy environment, Governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said on Monday.

He was addressing the participants of the British Council’s policy dialogue on How to Foster a More Inclusive Education System in Pakistan at the Governor’s House.

“According to UNICEF estimates, over 1.4 million Pakistani children with disabilities are currently out of school. The problem is more prevalent among girls,” he said.

“The situation in the Punjab is slightly better with special education schools in very sub-district, with a funding of over Rs1 billion every year. To facilitate such children at post-graduate level, the Higher Education Commission has asked our universities to reserve a 1 per cent quota for students with disabilities. There is a need to ascertain whether this is actually implemented or not,” he said.

Sarwar said that it was imperative that the government increase its efforts in both inclusive education and special education.

“This will require a comprehensive and collaborative approach from the government and from the education sector to increase the access to schools, universities and vocational training centres,” he said.

He praised both the British Council and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) for investing their time and resources in raising the profile of persons with disabilities in Pakistan.

“We should only view this as a starting point. There is much more that is still to be done,” he said.

During the dialogue, the panel was chaired by Peter Upton, the British Council Pakistan country director. It also featured Sir Martin Davidson, the British Council CEO, Higher Education Department Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal, Special Talent Exchange Programme president Atif Sheikh, Special Education Secretary Ambreen Raza and DFID Senior Education Advisor Barbara Payne.

The panelists stressed the significance of the issues and argued strongly for the promotion of the framework of inclusion in education in all segments of society, including employment for persons with disabilities.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 18th, 2014.

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