IMPLICATIONS OF UN CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES 2007 FOR EDUCATION POLICY IN PAKISTAN
, H. Fazil2
1University of Management and Technology (PAKISTAN)
2University of the Punjab (PAKISTAN)
The education policy in Pakistan has been vulnerable to a rapid political change from democratic system to dictatorship and vice versa. The average stay of any democratic government is less than two years. Whereas the average time consumed in policy formulation is more than three years. In the absence of a sustained political will it is difficult to trace the impact of education policy on quality of education. In spite of all these uncertainties there is a slow but steady expansion in the system of education in Pakistan. However, educational opportunities available to children with disabilities are not even in proximity of what ordinary children in Pakistan have access to. The enrolment rate of children in ordinary primary schools is about 70% whereas the enrolment rate of children with disabilities is less than 4%. There are two separate ministries of education; one for ordinary children and other for children with disabilities. In spite of all good efforts made by both public and private sectors there is no hope that this gap will be bridged in near future because of ministerial fragmentation. The huge disparity in access to education clearly indicates that discriminatory attitudes of policy makers have created strong but invisible barriers to learning. The UN Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities 2007 mandates that each member state must ensure that “Persons with disabilities are not excluded from the general education system on the basis of disability…” (Article 24, 2a). The Convention further adds that “Persons with disabilities can have access an inclusive, quality and free primary education and secondary education on an equal basis with others…”(Article 24, 2b) The Convention has a clear and comprehensive elaboration on curriculum, assessment and school culture. There is need to translate these articles into policy statements so that an action plan can be prepared to achieve the targets set by the convention. Unless concerted efforts are made to bring about a change in the mind set of the policy makers in Pakistan this convention cannot be implemented in letter and spirit. A strong digital divide is emerging between persons with and without disabilities in terms of using ICT devices to enhance learning. This is, in fact, a case of double discrimination against persons with disabilities; one as being disabled and other for having limited access to ICT. This paper will deliberate on the ways and means through which the mismatch between the education policy and the UN Convention is identified and strategies to eliminate discrimination can be worked out.