Vol. 5 Num 540 Sat. December 03, 2005  

Formulate policy for mentally challenged children
Speakers urge govt

Speakers at a workshop yesterday urged the government to formulate a national policy for the welfare of the mentally challenged children.

They also stressed the need for taking necessary steps to create social awareness about the children with intellectual disability.

The workshop on 'Guidelines for reporting on intellectual disability' was organised by Unicef Bangladesh and the Ramna branch of the Society for the Welfare of the Intellectually Disabled (SWID) in the city on the eve of the International Day of Disabled Persons.

Editor of the daily Prothom Alo Matiur Rahman was present as chief guest at the inaugural session of the workshop while internationally famous artiste Runa Laila and noted actor MA Alamgir were present as special guests.

Pledging to work with the Unicef and SWID Bangladesh in this field, Matiur Rahman said the journalists have been playing important role in social, political, and economic sectors in the country since 1950.

He however said the welfare organisations can create pressure on the journalists to write on the issue by providing necessary information in this regard.

He said the number of mentally challenged children in the country is around 42 lakh. Besides, there are many other retarded people in the society who also need the attention of the press.

"The public figures of the society have responsibility to do something for the mentally challenged children. They are not mad and due awareness about them must be build up with the help of the government," said Runa Laila.

Bureaucratic tangle hinders implementation of the Disabled Children Welfare Act 2001 which needs amendment to meet the present day requirements, said President of SWID Bangladesh MA Baten.

Secretary General of SWID Bangladesh Jowaherul Islam Mamun presented a keynote paper at the workshop.

At the second session, presided over by poet Asad Chowdhury, the speakers suggested meeting with the editors so that the national dailies give due coverage of stories related to retarded children.

They also suggested publishing books on the training of mentally challenged children, and their participation at different educational programmes in radio and television.

Unicef Assistant Communication Officer SM Rezwan-ul-Alam, Sajida Humayun Kabir of SWID Bangladesh, Dr Rawnak Hafiz of Autism Welfare Foundation, Senior Sub-Editor of the daily Ittefaq Kaykobad Milon, Cultural activist Sara Zaker, Rezauddin Stalin, mentally challenged children and their parents were present.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of Blind Education, Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (Berdo) Mohammad Saidul Haque, in a statement, called for creating an environment where the people with disability can enjoy life with dignity.