Staff Correspondent: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said her government would arrange permanent accommodation and employment for the differently able persons including the people with autism aimed at securing their lives.
“We have eight divisions. We will first ensure it (permanent accommodation and employment) in the eight divisions and in phases, we will make it in each district,” she said.
The prime minister said this at a function in the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here, joining virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence in the city this morning.
The Social Welfare Ministry organised the function marking the 15th World Autism Awareness Day.
The premier at the function also inaugurated two apps “Bolte Chai” and “Smart Autism Barta” which will help autistics with speaking problem speak and diagnose autism respectively.
Sheikh Hasina said the permanent accommodation and employment for differently able persons and the people with autism will be ensured under the “Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Trust”.
“We can build hostels or dormitories for them through the trust where people will be there to look after them,” she said.
She also asked the social welfare minister to take a project for arranging permanent accommodation and employment for disabled people as they feel secured if their guardians aren’t alive to support them.
The prime minister said her government is working for giving a beautiful and improved life to every people in the society that included autistics and disabled.
“We’re taking Bangladesh ahead towards prosperity. We’re running the state to ensure a beautiful life for the every section of people,” she said.
She called upon all particularly the affluent persons to stand beside the disabled and provide them with necessary assistance, including financial aid and jobs at their organizations, to ensure their meaningful livelihood and flourish their hidden talents.
The prime minister said it is the responsibilities of all the wealthy citizens of the country to take care of the differently able people, adding, “They’re our kith and kin.”
She said the people with autism can establish their life as they have huge talents.
“We will have to create scope for them to flourish their hidden merit,” she said, calling for not showing negligence anymore to them.
Referring to winning gold and silver in the Special Olympics and recent championship title in the four-nation special cricket tournament by the Bangladeshi differently able people, she said the normal players of the country even could not do it.
Coming to power after 21 years in 1996, she said the Awami League government started working for the betterment of the disabled people.
The term of autism was not familiar at that time, she said.
Sheikh Hasina, who herself offers great patronage to autistics, said the issue was completely unknown and unattended in Bangladesh and even to her.
With her daughter Saima Wazed Putul taking the lead, she said the importance and awareness about autism have increased nationally and internationally.
Requesting the parents and guardians for putting in effort to integrate the autistics into the mainstream society brushing shyness about their children’s physical and mental barriers, the prime minister asked them to spend more times with their children.
Stressing the need for changing mindset of the society, she said, “We should not consider disabled people as a burden of the society. They have also the right to lead meaningful life and we the people having sound health should fulfill their rights.”
The theme of the World Autism Awareness Day-2022 is ‘Inclusion in the Workplace’.
The United Nations General Assembly declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day to highlight the need for enhanced initiatives by all to improve the lives of children and adults who suffer from autism.
Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed presided over the function while State Minister for Social Welfare Md Ashraf Ali Khan Khasru and its Secretary Mahfuza Akhter spoke.
At the function, on behalf of the prime minister, the social welfare minister handed over awards to the three children with autism, three organisations, two persons and a mother in four categories in recognition of their contribution to different fields.
Three children with autism — Masudul Iman, Muntasir Enam and Esaba Habib Sushmi — have got a crest, certificate and a cheque of Tk 50,000 each for their contribution to the society.
Three organisations — NI Khan Foundation, RTV and Foundation for Women and Children — and two persons — Suborna Chakma and Prof Khandoker Abdullah Al Mamun — received the honorary letter in recognition to their contribution to development and ensuring safety to the people with autism and Sharmin Chaudhury got the award as a successful mother of a autistic child.
On behalf of the people with autism, the minor girl Esaba Habib Sushmi also addressed the function.
A video documentary on the government’s measures for giving a beautiful and improved life to the people with autism was also screened.
Putting emphasis on inclusive education for the children with disabilities, Sheikh Hasina said they should be given scope to pursue study with general students.
“It is not enough to arrange co-education for them rather should give them more scope to mix with general students. The more the children with autism will get scope to mingle with general students the more the chance of their recovery will increase,” she said.
In this connection, she said the government has been giving monthly education stipend of Taka 750 to 1300 disabled students as they can continue their study.
Mentioning that 20 lakh and eight thousands of disabled people are now getting Tk 750 per month, she said one corner and two lakh people are currently getting various allowances under the social safety net programme.
The prime minister said they have established the National Disabled Development Foundation in 1999.
She stressed the need for creating awareness about autism not only in Bangladesh but also across the globe to know how to behave with them. And for this, proper training is needed for the parents, teachers and concerned people, she added.
She said Bangladesh was well aware of the disabled and Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman established co-education schools after achieving independence in 1971 for the visually impaired under the jurisdiction of the then Social Welfare Department.
The premier also put emphasis on diagnosing autism of newly born children to give proper treatment to them for early recovery.
For this reason, she said her government has established Institute of Pediatric Neuro Disorder and Autism (IPNA) at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU).
Sheikh Hasina said two laws – “The Persons with Disability Rights and Protection Trust Act, 2013” and “The Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Act, 2013” – were passed in the parliament to protect interests of the persons with disabilities.
Under the trust law, she said a “Neuro Developmental Disability Protection Trust” was formed in 2014. Since its establishment, the government has allocated Taka 143 crore, she added.
Spelling out her government’s initiatives for the overall development of the disabled, she said they have already built a complex for disabled persons at Mirpur.
An ‘Autism Resource Centre’ has started functioning on the campus of Jatiyo Protibondhi Unnayan Foundation in 2010 at Mirpur, the prime minister said.
To provide free residential medical services, training and education to the autistic children and older disabled people, a multipurpose complex, Subarna Bhaban, was established, she said.
The premier said shelter homes for 275 disabled and people with autism were also built in the complex.
Sheikh Hasina said the Father of the Nation had allocated huge areas in each of 19 districts after independence under the supervision of social welfare ministry to build orphanage or other welfare oriented organisations.
Bangabandhu also introduced one percent quota in public jobs for the disabled people, she said.
Later, the premier witnessed a cultural show performed by people with autism.
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