Pakistan Peoples’ Party promised to promote the creation of institution for special children and children with disabilities and provide funds for existing schools for further facilities.
In Pakistan, there are no updated statistics on the number of persons with disabilities, and in specific, there are no updated statistics on women and girls with disabilities, and what types of disabilities they are affected of. Disability has been recognized and included in the census, however “statistics on disability suffer from inadequacies such as lack of standardized definitions. The [World Health Organization] estimates of disability for the developing countries [including Pakistan] were found to be 10% of the total population.”
On 12 November 1990, Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which recognizes the rights of children with disabilities in Article 2 (para1) and Article 23. These Articles apply on all children including girls.
On 12 March 1996, Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). The CEDAW is not directly talking about the rights of women and girls with disabilities.
On 25 October 1994, Pakistan ratified the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention 1983 (No 159). The Convention for its purpose defines a disabled person “an individual whose prospects of securing, retaining and advancing in suitable employment are substantially reduced as a result of a duly recognised physical or mental impairment.” Therefore, each state party to the Convention “shall consider the purpose of vocational rehabilitation as being to enable a disabled person to secure, retain and advance in suitable employment and thereby to further such person’s integration or reintegration into society.”
In August 2011, Pakistan ratified Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, which recognizes issues and problems and rights of women and children with disabilities in Articles 6 and 7 respectively.
In 2012, the Directorate General Special Education and Social Welfare (DGSE&SW) has established a cell, which is called UNCRPD Secretariat for the implementation of the Convention. In addition, a Core Committee was formulated to monitor/coordinate with the Federal Ministries/ Divisions/ Departments/Provincial Government Departments/ NGOs/ DPOs for the implementation of the Convention.
National Legislation and policy
The Constitution of Pakistan, 1973: The Constitution is greatly silent about the rights of the persons with disability. In one sense, their rights can be seen as equals to all other citizens who are without any disability. However, Article 38 (d) talks about the promotion of social and economic well-being of the people by the state. It says that the State has to “provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief, for all such citizens, irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race, as are permanently or temporarily unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment.” The Article provides protection to all persons with disabilities including women and girls.
National Plan of Action (NPA) to implement the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, 2006: The NPA was introduced to operationalize the National Policy for the Persons with Disabilities; there remained “lack of ownership from coordinating agencies both in the public and private sectors and particularly at provincial level”. The NPA was an integrated operational approach that aimed to address the issues of access, inclusion and equalization of opportunities for the person with disabilities by using all potential resources. The NPA has “identified 17 critical areas of intervention from assessment of the magnitude of the problem to service delivery systems.
Of the total 17 areas of action to implement the NPA, two areas were about children with disabilities. Under these actions goals/outcomes, barriers and performance indicators were set. These areas of actions are:
1) Strengthening of Special Education for children with severe and moderately severe disabilities: All children with SEN have opportunity for quality education from kindergarten to class 10 level and develop fullest capacity for economic and social integration that promotes self confidence and empowerment.
2) Promoting Inclusive Education for children with Special Education Needs (SEN): Inclusive Educational opportunities are available to large number of children with moderate and mild level disabilities from kindergarten to class 10 in cost effective ways.
Rubina Qaimkhani former Minister for Women Development and Special Education said that Sindh government had established 75 special education centers. She said after the 18th Amendment, the special education department had been handed over to the provinces and so it was their responsibility to provide better facilities to the special children. She said the department of special education funds operation of special children in order to rid them of disabilities.
She said that the Sindh Special Education Department had devised policies according to which schools had started pick and drop facilities at various schools for special children, adding many children were nominated for international events. She said her department has decided to facilitate the special children in every possible way.
Pakistan Muslim League-Functional’s (PML-F) Nusrat Sahar Abbasi has said that the PPP government is fudging figures and no real improvement has been done for the disable children. “When the condition of normal children in schools is not satisfied do we expect any better treatment to the disable children.” She further added that we need many schools for disable children are just on papers.
Professor Muhammad Wasay, President Neurology Awareness and Research Foundation , said that the disability rate in rural areas was 65 per cent while in urban areas of the country, 34 per cent suffer from disabilities. The 58 per cent men while 42 per cent women suffer from some kind of disability. The victims in Punjab are 56 and in Sindh are 28 per cent
As per Dr. Wasay’s statistics, only 14 per cent of the disabled persons are the part of workforce, where only 10 per cent have access to rehabilitation and 17 per cent have access to social and educational support. He mentioned the ratio for disabilities including physical disability (35%), multiple (8%), blind (8%), mentally challenged (7%), deaf (7%), psychiatric (6%) and others (30%).
He said that not adequate attention is being given to provide quality education to the disable persons anywhere in Pakistan.
The PPP government in Sindh has fulfilled its promise.