Sunday, June 16, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The classroom should never discriminate

Break unfair and damaging stereotypes

Update : 05 Dec 2022, 01:26 AM

Despite Bangladesh's inexorable march towards middle-income status, it is incredibly unfortunate that we have not made as much of a progress in terms of social inclusion. And nowhere else is that more evident than our prevailing attitude towards those with disabilities.

A recent government research shows that around three-fourths of all children with disabilities enrolled are out of the secondary school system, while 60% of them do not attend conventional primary schools. A mere 8% of them enroll in early childhood education at primary schools. 

This is an utter failure on the part of our educational institutions since, despite a government directive from around 2009 that is supposed to ensure that children with special needs are not denied enrollment in schools, far too many mainstream schools flat out refuse to accept them.

Many in Bangladesh still harbour outdated mindsets which dictate that, somehow, having a disability makes a person a lesser member of society or economically unproductive. This is certainly not the case, and the stigma ends up hurting us all in the long term, and to know that our school administrations also subscribe to such retrograde views is nothing if not concerning,

However, with recently announced initiatives such as the “Shobai Miley Shikhi” program, there is certainly reason to be hopeful in this regard, as it seeks to bolster learning opportunities for primary school children in hard-to-reach areas by focusing on children with special needs.

But the fact of the matter is that, despite government intervention, retrograde attitudes towards those with disabilities are still the default.

We must all collectively understand that persons with disabilities are just as capable as those who are able-bodied in fulfilling their dreams and becoming productive citizens, especially in the context of a globalized world.

We need to break these unfair and damaging stereotypes so we can all reach our full potential, and the classroom would be a good place to start.

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