The National, Monday July 1st, 2013
CHILDREN with disabilities and their communities will both benefit if society focused on their abilities rather than their disabilities, Unicef’s annual State of the World’s Children’s report says.
The report, launched last Friday, said concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society.
“While children with disabilities confront additional challenges as a result of their impairments, they have the potential to lead fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to society if given the opportunity,” Unicef Representative, Baba Danbappa said.
Danbappa echoed sentiments by Unicef executive director, Anthony Lake and called for greater effort to support integration of children with disabilities to help tackle the discrimination that marginalised them.
“Early detection of disability is an important part of early childhood education,” he said.
“The earlier a disability is detected in a child, the more effective the intervention and the less severe the disability.
“With Unicef support, 17 special education resource centres in the country have trained staff to address early intervention on special learning needs of children.”
Department of Community Development secretary Anna Solomon called for a change of values and understanding with respect for those living with disability.
“Our national policy on disability emphasises the principles of protection of human rights, inclusiveness, barrier free and partnerships and these must be respected,” Solomon said.
She said the launch of the Unicef report on children with disabilities was timely as one of the objectives of the national policy, which was being reviewed, was not only to improve the lives of children with disability but to accept the roles and responsibilities of caring for them.
The report urges governments to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to support families so that they can meet the higher costs of caring for children with disabilities.
It calls for measures to fight discrimination among the general public, decision-makers and providers of such essential services as schooling and health care.
It emphasises the importance of involving children and adolescents with disabilities by consulting them on the design and evaluation of programmes and services for them.