The 2nd National Education Conference for Children with Intellectual Disabilities in Myanmar was held at the Myanmar International Convention Center II in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday.
The conference was aimed to promote inclusive education and special education programme for the intellectually disabled children, to coordinate the works and future plans based on education law and principles for persons with disabilities and to encourage their intelligence, knowledge and skills.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio made an opening speech at the ceremony. He said that the 2010 World Report on Disability of World Health Organization on Disabilities has shown that there are 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide, every tenth person of them are children, and 80 per cent of these children are living in developing counties. The disabled people are facing many deficiencies in physical, social, economic and mental spheres, hindering them from joining with communities. They have difficult access to education, employment, healthcare, social and legal protections. They are also experiencing the highest death rate while a large number of these people are living in the poorest global communities.
Moreover, as their participations were neglected by different communities, the UN General Assembly has adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) on 13 December 2016 to ensure equal opportunities for all persons with disabilities, to protect their human rights and to promote their rights and dignity.
Myanmar’s 2008 State Constitution has mentioned in the paragraph 32 (a) that ‘The Union shall care for mothers and children, orphans, fallen Defence Services personnel’s children, the aged and the disabled.’
For fully protection and promotion of rights for the disabled persons, Myanmar signed UNCRPD on 7 December 2011, and observing the Incheon Strategy for the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities(2013-2022), the Bali Declaration of ASEAN Decade of Persons with Disabilities (2011-2020), and the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030).
Myanmar has enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Law on 5 June 2015 and the bylaws on 27 December 2017. The law includes a paragraph that ‘every child with disabilities shall have the right to education opportunities including Early Childhood Education and Life Long Learning’.
According to the 2014 Population and Housing Census, 4.6 per cent of the country’s population, with over 2.3 million people, were the persons with disabilities, and an estimated 830,000 persons were intellectually disabled persons. Among them, over 90,000 were children.
The number of children with intellectual disabilities is increasing across the world, and that early childcare programmes and development assessments in children become crucial. The Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement is operating a pilot project of the Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) in Ayeyawady and Mon, and it will be expanded to the other areas.
The Vice President also remarked children with intellectual disabilities have less access to the schools due to some hindrances such as fewer numbers of schools and departments to generate training teachers for these children, lesser number of teachers compared with the students at these schools, the lack of parents’ knowledge, inappropriate view and treatment of societies to these children.
He also said the children have different intelligence and intellectual capacities. While some children need special cares and some developmental delays, they also have feelings like other children. They love others, and in return expect love and kindness which are important for their development.
The Vice President also said skillful teachers are required for developing such needy children to identify their capacities.
In addition to individual or a certain organization, the adults who have close relations with these children should also have knowledge on special education for these children. Especially their parents need to understand and participate in caring them. Such approach would make mutual understanding between the children and the parents. Moreover, teachers from the schools with disabled children need to know special methods to nurture such children.
To build a modern, developing, democratic federal union, all relevant ministries, social communities, experts, and people must create education opportunities for these children, so that no one gets left behind and everyone enjoys human rights without any discrimination, said Vice President U Henry Van Thio.
Then, development and rehabilitation of disabled children were presented by a documentary video the Early Childhood Intervention and the Myanmar Special Education.
Next, the children with intellectual disabilities performed with the song ‘Forever Myanmar’.
The Vice President and officials presented awards to the Dayu Basich Education High School (Sub) in Bamauk Township of Sagaing Region and the eight outstanding intellectually disabled children.
Then, the Vice President and the attendees have the documentary photo taken. He also looked around the displays of photos on development assessment in early childcare, nurturing and rehabilitating the intellectually disabled children.
The ceremony was also attended by the Vice President’s wife Dr Anna Shwe Hluan, the Union Ministers and wives, the Chairman of Nay Pyi Taw Council and wife, the Chairman of Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, the Deputy Ministers, the Member of Nay Pyi Taw Council, Social Affairs Ministers from States/Regions, Permanent Secretaries, diplomats from foreign missions in Myanmar, representatives from UN agencies, departmental officials, social organizations, organizations of disabled persons, children of disabilities and disabled persons.
The first National Education Conference for Children with Intellectual Disabilities was organized in November 2016.—MNA
(Translated by Aung Khin)