Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, while inaugurating the Center for Autism Rehabilitation and Training, Sindh (C-ARTS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at Korangi, announced to increase the budget of Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) from Rs800 million to Rs1.7 billion in the next budget so that more facilities for special education and rehabilitation could be established.
The ceremony was attended by Adviser to CM Manzoor Wassan, provincial ministers Sharjeel Memon and Shahela Raza, Adviser on Law Murtaza Wahab, special assistants Sadiq Memon and Waqar Mehdi, Chief Secretary Sohial Rajput and others.
Murad appreciated C-ARTS on growing from strength to strength. “I had inaugurated the first C-ARTS facility in Gulistan-e-Jauhar and now here at Korangi I am with a third setup under its umbrella,” he said, and added that the C-ARTS now was providing services to over 300 individuals with autism free of cost.
The CM said that the trait that made C-ARTS unique was that they provide all the services required by children with autism under one roof. “While children are the main focus of C-ARTS, they do provide training to the parents also, as autism ultimately doesn’t happen to an individual, it happens to a family and requires the full support of all the child caregivers,” he said.
Today, we have inaugurated C-ARTS Adult and ADHD Center, which will train over 150 individuals with autism for employment so that they become contributing members of the society, the chief minister said and added the center would also cater to ADHD children.
“The distinct feature of this center is the collaboration between the rehabilitation specialists and the corporate sector,” he said, and added this model would go a long way to create sustainable employment for this population and they would be a role model for others.
Murad Ali Shah deplored that in Pakistan there was a dearth of professionals who were appropriately qualified to work with individuals with autism. “Thus C-ARTS also acts as a training facility for these professionals to receive the experience and training required to execute their duties to the best of their abilities,” he said.
The CM said that the C-ARTS’ first satellite facility in Hyderabad had also started providing state of the art services to individuals with autism. He added that to that end, he was allocating a bigger facility and budget so that the satellite facility could be expanded into a full-fledged center of excellence such as the one in Karachi.
The CM said that besides C-ARTS facilities, the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPD) in collaboration with the partners was evolving to cope with the needs of rehabilitation, education, and employment of differently abled persons of all categories. Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018 was a major step towards achieving rights for differently abled persons as per UN Conventions on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Murad said, and added that through the act, all major disabilities had been defined in detail, which was a major departure from earlier federal and provincial laws that recognised only four categories of physically impaired, visually impaired, hearing impaired and mental retardation.
The CM said that the act was a major improvement upon these as it specified autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Tourette, Down, Rett and other syndromes and neurological disorders.
The CM said that his government has provided relaxation in age limit and qualifications for employment for differently abled persons. He added that the categories of jobs suitable for differently abled persons have also been provided.
The chief minister announced to increase the development portfolio of the department from Rs800 million to Rs1.7 billion from next financial year, 2022-23.
Major projects include construction of 17 new special education & rehabilitation centers and reconstruction/rehabilitation of 13 existing centers, he said, and added that capacity-building of existing centers would also be done through provision of equipment and staffing. CM’s Special Assistant Sadiq Memon, speaking on the occasion, said that new autism centers were being established in Shaheed Benazirabad, Matiari, Sukkur, Larkana and Mirpur Khas.
Memon said that children enrolled at special education centers were being provided stipend of Rs2,000 per month, free transportation, and lunch. He added that under Social Protection Initiative Special Fund of Rs250 million for differently abled has been allocated by Sindh chief minister.