Advocates demand inclusive education for disabled students

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A consortium of organisations advocating for people with disabilities has urged the Ministry of Education to form an Inclusive Education Department.

“We ask to have an Inclusive Education Department because if there is not a specific department responsible for helping disabled people, then any plans won’t be prioritised,” said U Tha Uke, secretary of the Action Committee for Children with Disabilities to Access Mainstream Education.

The committe is comprised of 15 representatives from different disabilities advocacy groups.

On July 6 at the Alternative Education Forum in Nay Pyi Taw, Minister for Education U Myo Thein Gyi declared that matters related to ensuring inclusive education will fall under the Department of Alternative Education.

“That would be the opposite of what we are trying to achieve,” U Tha Uke said at a press conference on July 28.

The consortium of advocates, which was formed on June 25, is currently taking a survey of children with disabilities, asking them what difficulties they face in schools. They reported, in a meeting with the minister for education, that there were 30 cases of students with disabilities claiming they had been rejected from enrolment at schools across the country. So far, the committee has confirmed 10 of those cases.

“The Ministry of Education should have a policy to address student acceptance,” said Daw Yu Ya Thu, a representative from the committee who specialises in assisting physically disabled students. “If children with disabilities apply for school enrolment, most teachers neglect them because there is no definite policy requiring the schools to accept children with disabilities.”

The UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities culminated in a signed agreement in December 2011. The Pyidaungsu Hluttaw adopted the Disability Rights Law on June 5, 2015. But local implemention of the Disability Rights Law has not yet taken place.

According to a 2010 nationwide report from the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, 53 percent of people with disabilities do not have access to education and only 2pc hold bachelor’s degrees.

According to the 2014 census data, 2.3 million people nationwide have a disability, or 4.6pc of the population.

Source