LAHORE 31 Aug (TNS): The development of special education sector has been identified as a high priority focus area by Government of the Punjab.
It has therefore taken a number of initiatives for the welfare of special children including enhancement in enrollment, employment of teachers, improving the quality of facilities to the disabled students and initiation of a series of activities to improve the standard of instructions. As an independent department, established in 2003 for special education; it has achieved remarkable results in this respect.
Education Department in Punjab also aims at upgrading the system of special education institutions/centers to provide quality services including skill development, socializing, economic empowerment, recreation and sports, etc. to disabled students at their door step to enable them to become more self-supportive and contributing member of the society despite their disability.
Functions of Special Education Department are legislation and policy formulation for special education, handling the matters relating to education and vocational training of special children, Training programs for teachers of special education, Printing of Braille books and other reading material, Developing the curriculum of special education, Arranging sports activities for special children, Running the campaigns for public awareness, social integration and creating friendly environment for special children including their economic rehabilitation, Developing the excellence centers , research centers and database for special education, monitoring the budgets, accounts and audit matters, handling the purchase of stores and capital goods for the department, monitoring the service matters except those entrusted to Services & General Administration Department, Registration of the Private Educational Institutions (Promotion and Registration) Ordinance, 1984 and the rules framed there under and handling the matters incidental and ancillary to the above subject.
The chief minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif has taken very important steps for the special students.
For special students there is no age limit for seeking admission in any educational institution is Punjab. One seat has been reserved in every educational institution offering MPhil or PhD degree for the special students.
All the institutional fee including hostel and utility bills have been waived off for the physically challenged students. On admission of a special student at university, the administration is supposed to award the student a laptop as an incentive and electric wheel chair is provided on passing out from the university.
In a financial year 2008-2009 and 2016-2017 the admission of special students was raised to 67%. The number of students in schools increased from 17176 to 30803.
There are 18 institutions working at all divisional headquarters and two institutions are exclusively functioning for visually impaired girls. Special children aging from 4 to 9 years confronted with any sort of visual impairment are admitted in these institutions. They are provided with free education, free Braille books, vocational training, psychological services, mobility & orientation, boarding & lodging facilities.
In 2015-16 75 Mini buses were arranged at the cost of Rs136 million for pick and drop service for the special children from schools. Rs800 per month were allocated per child enrolled in schools.
For computer lab Rs150 million, for the construction of hostel in training colleges Rs3 million and for the formulation of a new curriculum 4.8 million and for the braille printing press Rs3 million were allocated for the development of special education sector Punjab.
There are 14 institutions working for the training and education of mentally challenged children. Special children aging from 5 to 14 years confronted with any sort of mental incapacitation are admitted in these institutions.
There are 45 institutions imparting education to hearing impaired children and 2 institutions are exclusively working for hearing impaired girls. Special children aging from 4 to 9 years confronted with any sort of hearing impairment are admitted in these institutions. Boarding facilities and hearing aids are being provided free of cost to needy students.
There are 5 institutions working for the education and training of physically disabled students. Special children aging from 4 to 10 years confronted with any sort of physically disability are admitted in these institutions.
There are 36 institutions exclusively functioning for slow learner children. Special children aging from 5 to 10 years confronted with any sort of slow learning mantel capacity are admitted in these institutions. IQ level of the children for the admission in these institutions is in the range of 70-95. Those who repeatedly fail in any school of general education from Class 1-5 and are found reluctant to continue education because of slow learning abilities are included through referral system. Facility of pick & drop and text books are being provided free of cost to needy students.
There are 146 centers exclusively working at each tehsil/town level for the welfare of disabled children. Special children confronted with any sort of visual impairment, mental incapacitation, hearing impairment and physical disability are admitted in these institutions.
There are three degree colleges exclusively functioning for the welfare of disabled students. Special children confronted with any sort of visual impairment, hearing impairment and physical disability are admitted in these degree college. Facility of pick & drop is being provided free of cost to the needy students.
Presently 2 teachers training colleges are providing professional training in the field of special education and offering B.Ed in Special Needs, M.Ed in Visual Impairment, Deaf Speech & Language and M.A Special Education.
In-Service Training College is providing professional training and latest teaching techniques through teaching aid to the teachers.
The Inclusive Education Scheme was initiated in Muzafargarh and Bahawaulpur in October, 2014 at the cost of 188.235 million. In urban and rural areas 9000 special children were admitted in schools and provided with instruments and the target was to admit 40500 children by 2010 at the cost of Rs846 million, which was achieved.
A Rs5 million budget was allocated to provide the supportive instruments like wheel chair, hearing instruments, glasses for week visual children.
In 2015-2016 Voucher Scheme was initiated at the cost of Rs192 million under which every special child was given Rs400 voucher and the amount totaled up to Rs76 million. The construction and restoration of the private school is also part of the scheme. An amount of Rs.11 million was allocated for the providing supportive instruments.
An up-to-date hospital and rehabilitation center was established for the special persons in township.