The world is moving towards progress in every walk of life. But when we look towards societies, it feels as if some thing is still missing. Money, power, lust, etc., is the wish of every human being to attain. But we can’t deny this fact that we all are bounded with loads of social problems, which are hard nuts to crack. The key element of success and self- satisfaction is missing in most of the societies. Social issues are matters which directly or indirectly affect many or all members of a society and are considered to be problems, controversies related to moral values, or both. Social issues include poverty, violence, pollution, injustice, illiteracy, corruption, bribery, suppression of human rights, discrimination, and crime, child abuse, rape, dowry system, abortion, sex, etc.
Out of many social problems, I feel that the rights of Exceptional people are always being neglected by every one. No one wants to hear them. No body wants to give them proper love and care. They are being rejected from most of the societies. Due to the ill- behavior of the people, they are facing lots of trouble to explore their talents and creativity. Now, the time has arrived, when we need to re-think about our attitudes towards them. Tall talks from the government officials that special needs people will be given opportunities were held back by the previous government and still they are weeping for their rights to be given.
I did my research for 7 years at Aga Khan Social Welfare Board for Exceptional People Committee. I joined this institute and came to know about their feelings and emotions. I later studied many books and met many children of “Borderline Category” of different schools in Karachi. The revealing truth was bitter. I realized that they were totally deprived from our society and were considered as an insane, which is not true.
I guess, no one has right to define any human in their own perception, until and unless, he/she knows himself/herself deeply and perfectly. But it is a matter of despairty in Pakistan, that Exceptional Children are considered as a different being. People are trying to give their own definitions about them without knowing the proper definition of human. Human are acting like an animal and showing lack of concern towards them.
Let us try to understand, who exceptional people are?
Those persons who have IQ score which differ from the mean by two or more standard deviations are called Exceptional persons. Mentally retarded are declared as those persons who have scores two or more standard deviations below the mean. While the persons having score two or more standard deviations above the mean are called gifted persons.
Categories in respect of IQ are as follows:
o 70 above Border Line (trained and understandable)
o 70-50 Mild (educable)
o 50-35 Moderate (trainable)
o 35-20 Severe (miniman skills)
o 20-0 Profound (custodial care)
Thus we can say that,
“Exceptional children are those, who lacks either motor, cognitive, language, social and emotional, or self-help skill development.”
Imagine yourself sitting in Japan with the Japanese students communicating only in Japanese. How will you feel? At that moment, you will be called as a disable person who can’t speak or understand their language. But this is considered by you as a normal reaction, because you know you are normal. If that is the case, then how could most of us declare other mental without judging their talents and special skills, which God has bestowed them.
What disability is all about?
“Disability” means the lack of ability to perform an activity in a manner that is considered to be normal.”
“A disability is the expression of a physical or mental limitation in a social context- the gap between a person’s capabilities and the demands of the environment.”
(Pope and Tarlov, 1991 )
A person with disabilities means who, on account of injury, disease, or congenital deformity, is handicapped in undertaking any gainful profession or employment, and includes persons who are visually impaired as well. In short, Exceptional people are those, who either lacks one of the areas of development.
“Disability refers to the impact of impairment upon the performances or activities commonly accepted as the basic elements of every day living. Disability can be used when an impairment, objectively defined, constitutes a hindrance to mobility, domestic routines or the occupational and might be communicational skills.”
According to the social model,
“Disability is the outcome of the interaction of person and their environment and thus is neither person nor environment specific”.
Remember that physically disabled, blind/partially sighted, hearing impaired, autism, speech impairment, learning disabled, mild, moderate, severe, profound, borderline, etc., are some of the main categories of the Exceptional people out of many others. Persons with Exceptionality are mostly unseen, unheard and uncounted persons in Pakistan. They are the most marginalized group. Persons with special needs face overwhelming barriers in education, skills development and daily life.
The United Nations estimates that some 600 million people worldwide have a disability and that the vast majority of Exceptional people live in low and middle income countries. The proportion of Exceptional people in Pakistan as per census 1998 is 2.49 percent of total population, which is quite diverse from the estimates of World Bank, UN and WHO.
These children have equal right to freedom of expression, quality education and have access to a safe and healthy environment; in accordance with the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973; to have full rights and obligations as citizens as confirmed in; the UN Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, on Education for All (1990), UN Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities of Persons with Exceptionality (1993), Salamnca Statement and Framework for Actions (1994), Dakar Framework for Action (2000), UN Millennium Development Goals (2001) and the National Policy for Persons With Disabilities (2002) guarantee the rights of all children, both with and without disabilities, to obtain quality education adapted to their individuals needs, abilities and aspirations and full equal participation in all other aspects of life such as participating in decisions and casting votes, etc.
But these claims proved to be false, when disable people raised their voice through media that how brutally they are being treated in Pakistani society.
Example: to attain quality education is the right for every disable, but still, no schools, colleges and universities have been setup by the government to cater their needs. Thanks to the private NGOs, who took an initiative and established few schools for the students with special needs.
The issue of Exceptionality is gaining more and more importance all over the world as well as in Pakistan. Due the movement for a rights based society initiated by many national organizations, World Bank and other donor agencies have included this issue in their mandates. Governments haves framed various policies including reservation jobs, concession facilities in traveling, special training institutions etc. But the question is, if these mandates were made, when it will be implemented, and who will implement it? No concession is being granted to any disable in Pakistan so far in any of the commodity, nor there is an institute, where they could learn skills free of cost. NGOs have set up institutions, which takes loads of money from the parents to support their child.
It has ratified several international conventions, promulgated the National Policy in 2002, begun revising the ordinance on employment which would raise the employment quota to two percent to ensure more job opportunities, and initiatives to develop “Inclusive Education”. But so far, no initiatives have been taken by any of the government.
An infrastructure for Inclusive Education and Training was established in Pakistan in the 1980s which far exceeds that of most of the developing countries. However, despite these efforts, the sad fact is that most people with disabilities and their families remain completely un-served by government – and even NGO resources. There is dire need of more accurate data and research on causes, prevention, and curative efforts to understand the social and economic realities and possibilities with regards to disability.
The major barrier to employment and other socio economic benefits for persons with Exceptionality in our society continues to be attitudinal barriers; stereotypical thinking and assumption about what people with disabilities can and can’t do. The truth is that, the range of abilities of persons within any Exceptional group is enormous. We need to get rid of our stereotypical images and view each “individual” as just that “an individual”.
Only limited categories of disabilities (physical disabilities such as amputations, foot and leg deformities, visual and hearing impairments) have been surveyed nationwide and most of the data has not been categorized by gender. Therefore, quantitative, nationwide, disaggregated data, by gender and age, is required for comprehensive policymaking and an assessment of progress. In Pakistan, there is only the ministry, responsible for social welfare and special education, which touch upon person with Exceptional issues. Moreover, Pakistani’s believe that persons with Exceptionality are a social burden and a curse on the family. These beliefs lead to the misunderstanding of disability. They prevent people from obtaining appropriate information and being educated. Employment opportunities for them are very limited and so they are a financial burden for their families.
Like us, Exceptional people are also bounded with some common problems, which they face in their day to day life.
Some of the problems of exceptional people are
o Anxiety withdrawal;
o Fear and Phobias;
o Eating disorders;
o Movement problems;
o Suicidal Behavior;
o Difficult Temperament;
o Conduct Disorder;
o Obsessions and Compulsions;
o Reluctant Speech;
o Elimination Disorder;
o Unresponsiveness to Suicidal Stimuli;
o Self Injury, etc.
Persons with disabilities face multiple social, economic, physical and political problems, which hampers their freedom of movement in society. These barriers include stigmatization and a misunderstanding of the abilities and aspirations of persons with disabilities. There is also a pronounced lack of informational data, rules and regulations, rehabilitation centers, and main streaming and specialized services for persons with Exceptionalities.
The major community problem for which I have contributed my efforts is for “THE RIGHTS OF SPECIAL PEOPLE”. I have worked as a teacher/counselor/trainer of Exceptional People for 7 years. Since my childhood, I had an intention to social work for the Exceptional people, because I had a natural bond of attachment with them.
I dealt with all types of student of Profound, Severe, Moderate and Mild category. But I especially worked with “Borderline” students, who want their rights; who are facing major problem in every society and in every community; who wants their creativity to explore in front of others; who awaits for the love from others and wants other to accept them as a Normal Being.
I believe that every individual can make a difference. I thank God that these lovely students trusted me, gave me the bond of relationship and accepted me whole-heartedly during my first year of Volunteer Service. They shared all of their problems with me and I thank God for giving me the special power for being accepted by them. I have heard their voices, their shivered pleadings, their wishes, their expectations. But still, they need every one in the society to hear them, to care them and to love them. While working for their RIGHTS, I also faced many difficulties in our society.
I can’t do every thing alone, but at least, I have brought a little change in their lives, which is a big reward for me. The problems, which need to be resolved wholly, could only be possible, if the societies will join their hands together.
o Media should take an initiative to discuss their issues to create awareness among the masses
o Inclusive education should be made compulsory in every school as the part of their curriculum.
o Awareness campaign for students’ parents’ teachers’ should be raised in every community.
o Job opportunities must be provided to disable people
o Their needs should be addressed.
o Awareness should be made through telecasting movies and drama on their issues.
o They should not be called special.
o Competition should be raised in every community for younger students to make them aware about their rights.
o They must get rights to study in normal schools with special needs.
o Government should setup new curriculum for them.
o Psychological testing should be made compulsory to identify their needs and areas of development.
o They must get work place opportunity, which is lack in Pakistan. They must get jobs in government institutions also.
Every one can contribute in the society:
o By participating in International competitions to raise awareness.
o By participating in awareness campaigns.
o By developing new curriculum for them on national policy level.
o By providing them educational facilities and social justice.
o By raising funds for them and by finding more work place opportunities for them.
o By becoming the Ambassador for Exceptional People in Pakistan.
o By truly implementing the human right laws, made by UN.
o By motivating them more enthusiastically.