Providing a world where one day PwDs will be included as a part of mainstream society
Issues related to the differently-abled are a human rights issue. The government of India passed the ‘Rights of Person with Disability (PwD) Act’ in 2016, but its implementation and execution has yet to be realised and is a major concern. As per who estimates, 10 per cent of the population lives with some form of disability. As per niepid, formerly nimh (National Institute of Mental Health) India, 2 per cent of the population in India constitutes ‘Persons with Intellectual Disabilities’.
One of the greatest challenges faced in India is to provide education and training to PwDs, as it requires awareness, the right attitude, opportunities, and a strong support system. Such facilities are negligible in rural India. As per some estimates existing schools hardly cover 5-7 per cent of the PwDs, whereas technical education and vocational training is available to less than 2 per cent.
There is a strong need to generate more resources and provide adequate infrastructure and trained manpower in existing institutions. For example, in rural areas at the block level Zilla Parishad Schools can be used; at the urban level regular schools; and technical institutes can be used to impart technical education and vocational training to PwDs.
Inclusive education can also be part of the solution. Some experiments need to be conducted to find ways and means of providing education and training to PwDs. This type of arrangement will be cost effective, cover a large geographical area and PwDs can remain closer to their homes.
Further, beliefs and prejudices constitute barriers to education, employment, healthcare, and social participation. For example, the attitudes of teachers, school administrators, other children, and even family members affect the inclusion of children with disabilities in the mainstream community. Misconceptions by employers that people with disabilities are less productive than their non-disabled counterparts, and ignorance about available adjustments to work arrangements limit employment opportunities.
A commitment to continuous and sustainable awareness needs to be created about disabilities – to ensure that they are socially accepted into the wider community for it is only then that they are able to maximise their potential.
Electronic and print media, street plays, gram sabha workshops can be used; sensitisation of different stakeholders needs to be done periodically for the general population to understand the challenges that PwDs face.
People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to deficiencies in services such as healthcare, rehabilitation, support and assistance. Research in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu found that after cost, the lack of services in the area was the second most frequent reason for people with disabilities not using health facilities.
A lack of rigorous and comparable data on disability and evidence about programmes that work can impede understanding and action. Understanding the quantum of people with disabilities and their circumstances, can improve efforts to remove disabling barriers and provide services to allow people with disabilities to participate. For example, better measures of the environment and its impacts on the different aspects of disability need to be developed to facilitate the identification of cost-effective environmental interventions.
While many corporate houses have been traditionally engaged in csr activities voluntarily, the new csr provision puts a greater responsibility on companies to set out a clear framework and processes to ensure strict compliance. However, what the Companies Act does is bring more companies into the fold and increase the total csr spend. At Jai Vakeel we have benefitted from the Act, but only to a certain extent.
In the initial years when we embarked on a fundraising exercise with corporates we had to learn to tell our story in a manner that resonated with them. To elaborate, for a corporate which is interested in job generation we would pitch our Vocation Training Programme. For a corporate which is motivated to make a difference in healthcare, we would share our diagnostic and therapy-based programme. Thereby allowing each corporate to follow their mandate within our structure.
Today we have corporates willing to help us build our organisational capacity. We have had many corporates invite us to hold exhibitions in their offices to showcase our students’ talents and abilities. Many of our donors like hdfc, Credit Suisse, jm, and the Aditya Birla Group are willing to invest in skill building and capacity building of our organisation. Other companies like Lemon Tree and Olive Bar and Kitchen have shown an interest in providing employment to our students.
Many corporates have started out small but have slowly invested the time and resources to understand our work and have become sustainable donors and true partners in our mission.
Jai Vakeel envisions a world where one day our children will be included as a part of mainstream society.