55pc faces economic hardship while pursuing education
The government provides almost no support to the people with disability in education sector although it is bound to provide them with all sorts of educational facilities under its constitutional obligation and as a signatory of many national and international frameworks.
Whatever efforts that the government makes for the students with disability are channelised through Integrated Education Programme or Resource Programme and Special Education Programme of the social welfare ministry.
The Resource Programme constitutes comprehensive education for 10 male students at primary and high school level in each district. There are 30 resource teachers for 64 districts.
The Special Education Programme of five divisions incorporates five schools with 30 seats for boys and 20 seats for girls. This programme is for children with visual, speech, hearing and intellectual impairment.
Of the 64 schools under Resource Programme, around 38 are now inoperative. These pupils with disabilities do not get any Braille book as the only government Braille press at Tongi has been inactive since 1994.
According to a report of the World Health Organisation, 10 percent of the total population of Bangladesh are physically and mentally challenged while according to a study of the National Forum of Organisations Working with the Disabled (NFOWD) conducted in 2005on 12000 people of six divisions, 5.6 percent people are with disability.
Of them, 32.2 percent people are partial or full blind, 27.8 percent are physically challenged, 22.5 percent suffer from hearing and speech disability, 6.7 percent are intellectually challenged while 10.7 percent are people with multiple disability.
According to a survey of Bangladesh Pratibandhi Kalyan Samity (BPKS), the monthly income of 21 percent families having children with disability ranges from Tk 0 to Tk 1500, while the monthly income of 60 percent families ranges from Tk 1501 to Tk 3000. On the other hand, the monthly income of 13 percent families ranges from Tk 3001 to Tk 5000 and the monthly income of only 6 percent families is Tk 5001 and above.
BPKS conducted the survey in December 2005 in cooperation with other organisations working for the people with disability across the country.
The same study also found that as many as 55 percent of the children with disability face economic hardship in pursuing their education, while 19 percent of them face problems in educational institutions and with the educational system. On the other hand, 18 percent of them face communication problem, and 8 percent face social and other problems in pursuing education.
Mohammad Yusuf Mia, a blind student of Dhaka University (DU) who completed MS in political science in 2005 and is trying for a job, said he had to share the back dated Braille books with four other blind classmates at the primary schools.
"Starting from high school to university we got no textbooks from the government," he added.
"As the teachers are not sensitised about the presence of a blind student in the classes we have to depend on our classmates for assistance," said Zahidul Islam, a 2nd year LLB student of DU.
Most of the teachers do not utter what they write on the blackboard, he added.
As the scope for involvement in the mainstream is very limited for the people with disability, their families in general do not want to spend for that child.
A blind student Yusuf Mia maintained his livelihood and educational expenditure by selling mobile phone cards among the university students.
"Most of the time I was cheated as they did not pay me honestly," said Yusuf.
For higher education, students with disability spend most of their study time for charity collection, said a DU student with disability.
According to a survey conducted on 54 visually impaired students of DU in 2005 by a group of students of the Institute of Social Welfare, 73 percent students suffer from economic crisis and 65 percent face writing problem while answering a question.
"Due to lack of Braille paper we have to write on art paper or photo paper for which we have to pay Tk 7/8 for each page," said Lovely Akter, a visually impaired woman working in an NGO as junior trainer.
"We face the main hurdle after passing the SSC examination because after this we do not get any government book," she said.
These students have to depend on classmates or recorder for reading and on scribes for writing. As a result education for them becomes costlier than normal students.
BPKS Executive Director Abdus Sattar Dulal said if the teachers are properly trained, 90 percent students with disability can be enrolled in the schools.
"The government has constitutional obligation and obligation as a signatory of many national and international policies and frameworks to ensure education for the people with disability," he added.
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