Written by Abeera Ahmed
Photos credits: Abeera Ahmed, Humaqadam/Islamabad
Inclusiveness and accessibility are mainstays of Humqadam-SCRP’s service delivery for improved educational environment through infrastructure construction and rehabilitation. Every school adopted by Humqadam-SCRP is provisioned for infrastructure facilities keeping in mind Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) with restricted mobility. Part of the unique design philosophy is the inclusion of ramps and dedicated wheelchair-accessible toilets in all academic buildings.
Government Model High School Kahna Nau in District Lahore, Punjab province, was adopted by Humqadam in 2016, where 8 new classrooms and 4 new toilet cubicles were constructed complete with ramps and a PWD-accessible toilet. Humqadam-SCRP interventions could not have been more opportune as one of the faculty members at the school happens to be a person with disability.
The Arts teacher (name is kept undisclosed as per her request) is a beloved figure at the school where she has been teaching for the past 11 years. Riddled with polio at a young age, followed by a hip injury, her movement is severely restricted. At the school, she needed a helper and avoided using the toilet all together. But as an educator, she did not let her physical impairment compromise on her classes, and worked her way around the environmental barriers.
Humqadam-SCRP is delivering the right of quality education to all children, under principle of inclusive education for all. Infrastructure provisions for accessibility will allow all children to learn together in mainstream classrooms within their communities, regardless of the level of disabilities or abilities. Removing such environmental barriers will allow inclusive education and ownership promotion among the students, teachers and the community.
Infrastructure provisions for PWDs are not just a facility. Inclusive education is beneficial for PWD because it provides a sense of belonging, support and acceptance from their peers and the school community at large. PWDs educated in inclusive learning environments do better socially and academically, while learning to cope well within the community. They make friends, go to social events, learn to cope with negative social attitude, and stigma. These students are more likely to get employed, earn decent salaries, get married, and lead an independent life.
Humqadam-SCRP is striving to move the PWDs from the fringes to the mainstream by removing common school-based barriers which keep children with disabilities out of school. In 305 completed schools across Punjab, Humqadam-SCRP has made all new academic blocks and accompanying toilets accessible by wheelchairs.