Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today announced that the government would arrange allowances for all the differently able people from the next budget.
“Insha Allah, we will arrange allowances for all the differently able people from the next budget,” she told the inaugural function of the 12th World Autism Awareness Day at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here this morning.
Currently, 10 lakh disabled people are getting an allowance of Taka 700 per month from the government, she said and added that according to the latest census there are 14 lakh such persons in the country.
The premier said whatever might be the number all the disabled people, including mentally and physically challenged, autistic and others, will be brought under the coverage of allowance from the next budget, she affirmed.
She called upon all particularly the affluent people to stand beside the disabled and provide them with necessary assistance, including financial aid and jobs at their organizations, to ensure their meaningful livelihood and flourish their hidden talents.
Stressing the need for changing mindset of the society, she said, “We should not consider disabled people as a burden of the society. They have also the right to leading meaningful lives and we the people having sound health should fulfill their rights.”
No more negligence to be shown to them, she also said.
Requesting the parents for putting in effort to integrate them into the mainstream society brushing aside shyness about their children’s physical and mental barriers and asked them to spend more times with their children.
She mentioned that they have numerous talents which are absent among many people with sound health. “We’ll have to create a scope for them in all walks of lives including family, society, educational institutions and their workplaces to flourish those talents,” she added.
The Ministry of Social Affairs arranged the function with Social Affairs Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed, MP in the chair.
Health and Family Welfare Minister Zahid Maleque, State Minister for Social Affairs Ministry Sharif Ahmed, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs Rashed Khan Menon also spoke as the special guests, while Social Affairs Secretary Jewena Aziz delivered the welcome address.
On behalf of the people with autism, an SSC examinee with the disorder also addressed the function.
At the function, Sheikh Hasina handed over awards to five children with autism in recognition of their contribution to different fields and three individuals and three organisations for their role in building awareness about autism.
The premier joined a photo session with the award recipients and also lit the blue light at the function.
The day is being observed in the country as elsewhere across the globe with the theme –“Assistive Technology, Active Participation.”
The United Nations 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 the children with disabilities, the prime minister said they should be given scope to pursue study with general students.
Under Integrated Special Education Policy, the disabled students are availing the opportunity to study in 62 specialized schools and around Taka 23 crore have been allocated for running the schools, she also said.
In this connection, the premier said arrangements for an extra time have been made in the public examinations for the students with disabilities so they can take part in the examinations properly.
Sheikh Hasina, who herself offers great patronage to autistics, 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, the 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 for creating awareness about autism not only in Bangladesh but also across the globe to know how to behave with the autistic children, which requires proper training for the parents, teachers and concerned others, she added.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh was well aware of the disabled and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established 47 co-education schools after achieving independence in 1971 for the visually impaired under the jurisdiction of the then Social Welfare Department.
The premier also put emphasized on diagnosis of autism of newly born children to give proper treatment to them for early recovery.
For this reason, she said, her government has established Institute of Pediatric Neuro Disorder and Autism (IPNA) at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
She added 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 the disabled and providing them with education, treatment and other facilities.
Such shelters will be established in all the divisions and districts in phases to minimize tension of the parents of disabled about their wellbeing in future.
The government has been giving monthly education stipend of Taka 700 to 1200 among 90,000 disabled students as they can continue their study, she informed.
Sheikh Hasina 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 interests of the persons with disabilities.
Under the trust laws, she said, a “Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Trust” was formed in 2014. Since its establishment, the government has allocated Taka 70.97 crore.
The trust allocated Taka 40.55 lakh in the fiscal year 2017-2018, to 811 lowered income NDD persons to bear their treatment expenses, she mentioned.
It also aimed to distribute Taka 70 lakh on the same ground in the fiscal year 2018-2019, to 1200 lowered income NDD persons, she continued. Spelling out her government’s initiatives for the overall development of the disabled, she said they have already completed a 15-Floor Complex for disabled person at Mirpur at a cost of Taka 80 crore.
A 4.16-acre of land has been allotted to the Ministry of Social Welfare for maintaining a playground for children with disabilities by our government, she said.
A DPP formulation is underway for the establishment of an inclusive sports complex for the disabled on a 12.01-acres land near at Savar which will cost about Tk. 466 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 disabled people while an Autistic School was established there for providing free education, she mentioned.
Later, the premier witnessed a cultural show performed by autistics.