Plight of the deaf and mute in NWFP

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School principal complains of lack of equipment: NGO headsays there were 27,168 deaf, mute children in 2006  

By Muhammad Shahid

PESHAWAR: The birth of a baby is accompanied by feelings of joy, excitement and anticipation about his/her future, but the addition to a family of a child with disability certainly brings numerous challenges, demands and sources of anxiety.

The deaf and mute children need all those things and facilities the normal children need – communication, love, a sense of belonging and encouragement, friendship, freedom of choice and education – which jointly make them human beings with a good self-image. 

Not only the Frontier province lacks schools for these children, but it also lacks non-government organisations (NGOs) that could have done enough for the development of deaf and mute children.

Ahmad Salim, principal of the only Government School for the Deaf in Peshawar, told Daily Times that there were eight schools for the deaf and mute children in the province, adding: “One school each in Kohat, Bannu, DI Khan, Haripur, Dir and Abbottabad and two schools, one housing 200 boys and one with 100 girls, in Peshawar.”

He said his school’s performance was good, “According to the law, a class should have eight or nine students, but our teachers are teaching a class of around 30 students.”

Ahmad Salim stressed the need of setting up such schools in every district of the province, to avoid overcrowding and to ensure good teaching. He also said that the province lacked NOGs that could work for the special children’s development.

The school’s principal said all of the deaf children’s schools were being run under the supervision of the Social Welfare Department, adding: “There should be a separate wing for special education. Our school lacks modern hearing equipment, funds and modern transport facilities.”

The Special Education Complex (SEC), situated in Hayatabad, is another institute for the special children, but this institute is under the supervision of federal government.

“During a survey last year, we found that there were 27,168 deaf and mute children in NWFP,” stated Tassawar, chairman of the Doosti Pakistan – a non-government organisation (NGO) working for the education and rehabilitation of deaf and mute children. “Out of these 27,168 children, only 300-400 attend schools that are only primary or middle level.

Tassawwar claimed that his was the only one non-government organisation working for the rights of the deaf and mute children in NWFP since 1996, adding: “We are running a small Educational and Rehabilitation Centre for the Deaf and Mute without any help from any donor agencies. He said his organisation was facing financial problems.

“The Doosti Pakistan is registered with the NWFP Social Welfare Department under the 1961 Act with the registration No DSW/NWFP/2196,” Tassawar said, adding, “A Doosti Pakistan survey in 2003 had estimated around 2,2600 special children (both deaf and mute) in NWFP and tribal areas.”

“Our educational centre aims to provide best possible curricular and co-curricular opportunities to the special children with a view to prepare and shape them into well rounded personalities,” Tassawar added.

NWFP Social Minister Hafiz Hashmat was not available for comment.

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