Tajikistan, January, 2015 – In Tajikistan, disability is stigmatised and children are sent to state institutions or hidden away at home. Indeed, social attitudes and stigma plays a significant role in limiting the possibilities for children with special educational needs, here.
Over 125,000 people are registered as special needs in Tajikistan, 19,000 are under sixteen years old and 1,447 children are registered as orphans. Approximately, 2,505 children are registered as living in twenty three different special education institutions. Alas, the data contradicts with reality, as many are not registered or have not been physically seen over the years. Hence, inconsistent, inaccurate, incomplete and out-of- date data are often the root cause of the existing issue.
Very few of these children with special educational needs attend school. Apparently, the standards don’t allow enough flexibility for students who learn differently. But, parents in Tajikistan have begun to stand up for their children’s rights. They advocate for change and betterment, lobby with schools, local authorities and ministries to facilitate the inclusion of their children into mainstream schools.
Together with Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC) in Dushanbe, QNET and RYTHM Foundation have embarked on a joint venture in building a tight–knit friendship across Tajikistan and Malaysia to give these children a better future.
A day care centre was founded by APDC in March 2006 in the light of special needs children. These parents realised that their children face tremendous challenges and are often isolated. The APDC was formed to address how parents can expect their children to feel more integrated among society, learn the right to education, empowerment, motivate the little ones to live a full and active life.
The initial idea came about from the IRs in Tajikistan, a group of caring individuals with a big heart. Our representatives in Tajikistan observed that the centre is in great need for qualified teachers and basic essential needs. With QNET’s assistance, they can run the school smoothly, hire qualified teachers who can give the children their dignity, adapting to changes and trying out new things for the betterment of their students. QNET is the first corporate based company to offer a helping hand in keeping the school running and hiring highly qualified specialists to give these children the best education and moral support they need.
RYTHM Foundation and QNET will continue to work with APDC close to a year. Currently, there are seventy five children in association with this pilot project, and with Taarana as our spearhead, we will constantly keep track on their development, assess the programmes and subjects taught and monitor the children’s progress.
RYTHM is ultimately about recreating the message of Mahatma Gandhi, who believed that in order to help mankind, one needs to first help oneself, by raising oneself.
Here at RYTHM Foundation, we know that there are many parents out there who have children with special needs. These are the parents who are overjoyed when they see their child picking up a spoon and eating on their own, or flashing a simple smile. Their daily struggles are the things that we do in a blink of an eye. QNET and RYTHM Foundation join hands together to make the world a better place for them.