By Jawad Raza Khan

The term commonly used in the western world for special people is Developmental Disordered/Cognitive Impairment. This refers to disabilities affecting daily functioning in three or more of the following areas:

Capacity for independent living, economic self-sufficiency, learning, mobility, receptive and expressive language, self-care, and self-direction.

Unfortunately Pakistan is one of those countries where this disability is on increase but no statistics are available with regards to the number of effected population. Seminars are often arranged in big hotels with discussions and presentations, but real progress in right direction is not found. Non availability of concrete data on the subject with any governmental or non-governmental organization bears the testimony of this sour fact. On the contrary with no governmental cover available to the bereaved families and individuals, the private sector is all geared up for grabbing money from the parents by their continuous emotional blackmailing.

Pakistan is a country, where declining literacy rate has always been a retarding factor in the path of its progression, where child labor abuse has always shown an upward trend and where education is given 2.5% of complete financial budget per annum. In this depleted environment for education, the most neglected but important cadre of our ignorant society is the children with special needs. Number of new born with mental illness in Pakistan is on a steep climb with scanty of institutions available in the country to deal with it. Yet another sour fact is that all these institutions allow admissions of an intellectually disordered child till 25 years of age. This unwritten law which is very religiously taken care off in these institutions is responsible for deterioration of mental health of the child, who is denied of his right of education as citizen of Pakistan.

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The principle of ‘inclusive education’ was put forward at the UNESCO-convened Salamanca Conference in 1994 which has been a major step forward by the international community. The basic concept of inclusive education is to bring an intellectually disordered child into main stream of education. This concept is designed for following output.

  • It allows a special child to breath in normal healthy environment and learn civilized life from his or her classmates
  • This also indirectly but effectively train the society the manner to deal with these children right from the grass root level.

The above mentioned concept is rarely available in Pakistan and if some ingredients are found the cost effect is extremely high and unaffordable for the parents. As in the case of main stream education, field of special education is also suffering a great deal in Pakistan because of the non involvement of Government sector in it. With near absence of quality care of intellectually disabled individual in this precariously violent environment of the country chances of turning disabled children into violent adults exists in high percentage.  

According to an authentic survey carried out in Europe and available on internet confirms following:

  • Men with major mental disorderswere 21/2 times more likely than men with no disorder or handicapto be registered for a criminal offense and four times morelikely to be registered for a violent offense.
  • Women with majordisorders were five times more likely than women with no disorderor handicap to be registered for an offense and 27 times morelikely to be registered for a violent offense.
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These analyzed subjectscommitted many serious offenses throughout their lives. Thecriminal behavior in over half these cases appeared before theage of 18 years.

  • Intellectually handicapped men were three timesmore likely to offend than men with no disorder or handicapand five times more likely to commit a violent offense.
  • Intellectuallyhandicapped women were almost four times more likely to offendthan women with no disorder or handicap and 25 times more likelyto commit a violent offense.

It is imperative to make a mention here that these statistics are an outcome of a scientific survey carried out in a highly developed part of the world with high literacy rate and quality society awareness in this regard. Situation in Pakistan is indeed frighteningly deplorable, keeping in view the nearly un- manageable law and order situation because of sophisticatedly dangerous terrorism. In this environment horrifying possibility of judicious use of intellectually disordered children as bomb carriers for disastrous terrorist activities cannot be ruled out.

It’s time to respond now; there is a dire need of developing special education parameters on realistic, scientific and implementable grounds. To evolve a continuous system the basic parameters on which the special education policy of Islamic Republic of Pakistan would be able to achieve practicable sustainability. Following will be the highlights:

  • Evolving a system through which trained special educators are institutionalized to take care of every aspect of an intellectually disordered individual without any age limit.
  • Continuous mental and physical development of special people in the society through proper institutionalization, to ensure non isolation of effected people and families in our society.
  • Manipulating ways out to bring border line cases into main stream education and livelihood system.
  • A finely designed media campaign for society awareness.
  • It has been scientifically proved that physical activities is one of the most effective cure for intellectual healing especially in a developmental disabled individual. Representation of Pakistani special children in worldwide competitions like Special Olympics can become a great source of inspiration for this cadre of the society especially if it can be done through strong sports serving institution like WAPDA and Pakistan Army.
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Pakistan Army as a sports promoting institution can play a vital role towards this noble cause, which they are already playing in education sector all over Pakistan. Recent educational developments in Baluchistan with kind courtesy of Pakistan Army must also be coupled in this direction for betterment of the masses.   

Media is by and large one the most effective medium for society training and it has to come up with new ideas and enduring dedication for awareness and direction. Merely showing mentally retarded people on media for help from Bait-ul Maal may not suffice the all important purpose behind it. We as a society must learn the way tolive with acceptance and honesty.