Dis­abil­ity still hugely mis­un­der­stood

Re­veals a sur­vey of 577 house­holds from nine Dzongkhags

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Lucky Wangmo from Thim­phu Bhutan, Busi­ness

Knowl­edge re­gard­ing dis­abil­i­ties in chil­dren is “ex­tremely” lim­ited with 80% of re­spon­dents to a sur­vey in­clud­ing pro­fes­sion­als hold­ing the be­lief that dis­abil­ity is borne of karma due to past deeds, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­leased by the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

The Knowl­edge, At­ti­tude and Prac­tice (KAP) study on chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties (CWD) re­veals that peo­ple un­der­stood dis­abil­ity only as se­vere phys­i­cal and sen­sory im­pair­ments.

“In­tel­lec­tual im­pair­ment is not per­ceived as dis­abil­ity,” states the KAP re­port.

A to­tal of 577 house­holds from nine Dzongkhags namely, Bumthang, Chukha, Mon­gar, Pema­gat­shel, Pu­nakha, Thim­phu, Tsir­ang, Trashigang and Zhem­gang, were sur­veyed for the re­port. Over 60% of the re­spon­dents were iden­ti­fied as hav­ing re­ceived no for­mal ed­u­ca­tion, while only 36 re­spon­dents held a bach­e­lor’s or post grad­u­ate de­gree.

“Only half of the re­spon­dents in­di­cated that they un­der­stood the term in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­ity, about the same pro­por­tion that rec­og­nized wear­ing glasses as a dis­abil­ity,” states the re­port.

CWD refers to chil­dren up to the age of 18 who have long-term phys­i­cal, men­tal, in­tel­lec­tual or sen­sory im­pair­ments, which in in­ter­ac­tion with var­i­ous bar­ri­ers may hin­der their full and ef­fec­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion in so­ci­ety on an equal ba­sis with oth­ers.

The re­port also states that 21% of Bhutanese chil­dren be­tween two to nine years live with one or more dis­abil­i­ties. These chil­dren are a di­verse group and in­clude those with cog­ni­tive, vis­ual, hear­ing, speech, phys­i­cal, and be­hav­ioral im­pair­ments.

One of the chal­lenges for Bhutan is to en­dure that all chil­dren with spe­cial ed­u­ca­tional needs and dis­abil­i­ties re­ceive ap­pro­pri­ate ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial ser­vices, states the re­port. Talk­ing to

the Deputy Chief Pro­gram Of­fi­cer for spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, Pema Ch­h­ogyel, said that dis­abil­ity is com­mon and ev­ery­body is likely to face dis­abil­ity one way or the other in their life, be it with age, ac­ci­dent, health is­sues or by birth.

“Though peo­ple are more aware of dis­abil­i­ties, there is still need for more knowl­edge on CWD in Bhutan,” he said, “Peo­ple need to be more aware and there is a need for in­creased ad­vo­cacy. Most im­por­tantly peo­ple need to change their at­ti­tude to­ward dis­abil­ity, which is the main bar­rier in sup­port­ing CWD.”

The study in­di­cates that at­ti­tude to­ward CWD and their fam­i­lies were more pos­i­tive among younger re­spon­dents and highly ed­u­cated re­spon­dents.

“Peo­ple should con­sider em­pow­er­ing chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties in­stead of stig­ma­tiz­ing them,” said Pema Ch­h­ogyel.

Pema Ch­h­ogyel added that mak­ing Bhutan friend­lier for the dis­abled would in­volve more com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing ser­vices and in­fra­struc­ture that are dis­abled-friendly and re­spond­ing to peo­ple with dis­abil­ity.

“How­ever, peo­ple now are more aware of the needs of the dis­abled and are try­ing to in­cor­po­rate con­ducive ser­vices and sup­port in small ways.”

Pema Ch­h­ogyel also said that though it is dif­fi­cult to make all the in­fra­struc­ture dis­abled­friendly due to the na­ture of geo­graph­i­cal ter­rain, small changes like cov­er­ing drainage chan­nels and build­ing ac­ces­si­ble foot­paths and ramps would amount to a lot.

“We are not de­mand­ing that a whole build­ing should be con­nected with ramps or lifts but at least the ground floor, sur­round­ings and the en­trance to a build­ing should be dis­abled­friendly,” he said.

The study rec­om­mended es­tab­lish­ing a na­tional pol­icy and strat­egy for so­cial and ed­u­ca­tional in­clu­sion of CWD, en­sur­ing qual­ity and avail­abil­ity of ed­u­ca­tional and so­cial sup­port ser­vices to CWD and fam­i­lies and build­ing in­formed and skilled work­force by ap­pro­pri­ately train­ing ser­vice providers at var­i­ous lev­els.

One of the rec­om­men­da­tions was also en­sur­ing in­clu­sive and eq­ui­table qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and pro­mot­ing life­long learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for all.

Elim­i­nat­ing gen­der dis­par­i­ties in ed­u­ca­tion and en­sur­ing equal ac­cess to all lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion and vo­ca­tional train­ing for the vul­ner­a­ble, in­clud­ing per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties, in­dige­nous peo­ple and chil­dren in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions by 2030 forms part of the coun­try’s Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bhutan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.