The government has been giving monthly education stipend of Tk700-Tk1200 to 90,000 people with disabilities
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has announced that the government would arrange allowances for all the differently abled people from the next budget.
“Insha Allah, we will arrange allowances for all the differently abled people from the next budget,” she told the inaugural function of the 12th World Autism Awareness Day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in Dhaka on Tuesday.
She said: "Currently, 10 lakh people with disabilities are getting allowance of Tk700 per month from the government, whereas, according to the latest census there are 14 lakh such (disabled) persons in the country."
The PM said whatever might be the number, all the people with disabilities, including mentally and physically challenged, autistic and others, will be brought under allowance coverage from the next budget.
Hasina called upon all, particularly the affluent people, to stand beside people with disabilities and provide them with necessary assistance, including financial aid and jobs, at their organizations to ensure their livelihood and flourish their latent talents.
Stressing the need for changing the mindset of the society, she said: “We should not consider people with disabilities as burdens of society.
"They also have the right to lead meaningful lives and we, the people with sound health, should be aware of providing them with that.”
No more negligence must be shown to them, she also said.
Requesting parents to put in the effort to integrate their children with special needs into mainstream society_brushing aside shyness about their physical or mental barriers_she asked them to spend more time with their children.
The PM mentioned that differently abled people have various talents, which are absent in many people with sound health.
“We’ll have to create a scope for them in all walks of life, including family, society, educational institutions and workplaces, to flourish those talents,” she added.
The Ministry of Social Affairs arranged the function, with Social Affairs Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed in the chair.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, State Minister for Social Affairs Sharif Ahmed and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs Rashed Khan Menon also spoke as special guests, while Social Affairs Secretary Jewena Aziz Rahman delivered the welcome address.
On behalf of people with autism, an SSC examinee also addressed the function.
The prime minister also presented awards to five children with autism in recognition of their contribution in different fields, and to three individuals and three organizations for their role in building awareness about autism.
Hasina then joined a photo session with the award recipients, and lit a blue light at the function.
The day was observed in the country, as elsewhere across the globe, with the theme “Assistive Technology, Active Participation”.
The UN General Assembly declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need for enhanced initiatives by all to improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from autism.
Putting emphasis on inclusive education for children with disabilities, Hasina said they should be given the scope to pursue their studies with general students.
"Under Integrated Special Education Policy, people with disabilities are availing the opportunity to study in 62 specialized schools, and around Tk23 crore have been allocated for running the schools," she said.
In this connection, the PM said arrangements for extra time have been made in public examinations for students with special needs, so that they can take part in the exams properly.
Hasina, who herself offers great patronage to people with special needs, said the issue was completely unknown and unattended in Bangladesh, and even to her.
With her daughter, Saima Wazed Hossain, taking the lead, she said, importance and awareness about autism have increased nationally and internationally.
The prime minister said her government has established Suchona Foundation with Saima Wazed as its chairperson.
“Our goal is to create awareness among the guardians, parents and other members of the society about autism,” she said.
She advocated creating awareness about autism not only in Bangladesh, but also across the globe to know how to behave with autistic children, which requires proper training for the parents, teachers and others concerned.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh was well aware of people with disabilities and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established 47 co-education schools after independence in 1971 for the visually impaired, under the jurisdiction of the then Social Welfare Department.
The PM also put emphasize on diagnosis of autism in newborn children, so they can be given proper treatment for early recovery.
For this reason, she said, her government has established the Institute of Pediatric Neuro Disorder and Autism (IPNA) at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
She added that her government has established a 50-seat nursing centre at Brahmanbaria for girls and another 50-seat nursing centre at Bogura for boys to take care of children with disabilities and provide them with education, treatment and other facilities.
Such shelters will be established in all the divisions and districts in phases to minimize worries of the parents about the future well-being of their differently abled children.
The government has been giving monthly education stipend of Tk700 to Tk1,200 to 90,000 people with disabilities so they can continue their studies, Hasina informed.
The PM said two laws — “The Persons with Disability Rights and Protection Trust Act, 2013” and “The Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Act, 2013” — were passed in parliament to protect the interests of people with disabilities.
Under the trust law, she said, a “Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Trust” was formed in 2014. Since its establishment, the government has allocated Tk70.97 crore to it.
The trust disbursed Tk40.55 lakh in the fiscal year 2017-18 among 811 low-income NDD (neuro developmental disability) persons to bear their treatment expenses, she mentioned.
It also aims to distribute Tk70 lakh in FY 2018-19 to 1,200 low-income NDD persons, she continued.
Spelling out her government’s initiatives for overall development of people with disabilities, Hasina said they have already completed a 15-floor complex for people with disabilities at Mirpur at a cost of Tk80 crore.
Also, 4.16 acres of land have been allotted to the Ministry of Social Welfare for maintaining a playground for children with disabilities, she said.
A DPP formulation is underway for establishment of an inclusive sports complex for people with disabilities on 12.01 acres of land near Savar which will cost about Tk466 crore, she added.
An “Autism Resource Centre” has started functioning on the campus of Jatiyo Protibondhi Unnayan Foundation at Mirpur to provide free services to autistic children and older people with disabilities, while a school has been established there for providing free education, she mentioned.
Later, the PM witnessed a cultural show performed by autistic persons.