KARACHI: Chief Minister Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah inaugurated the First International Conference on Higher Education for the Deaf in Pakistan today at the Ida Rieu Schools for the Blind & Deaf here.
The conference was organized by the Ida Rieu Welfare Association in collaboration with the NED University of Engineering & Technology. Guest speakers from Pakistan and abroad participated in person and online in this conference to express their thoughts on the way forward for facilitating higher education for people with deafness.
Nadira Panjwani, President of Ida Rieu Welfare Association said in her address that there are no reliable statistics about the incidence of deafness in Pakistan, but it is generally believed that there are over one million school going children suffering from some form of hearing impairment. Presently options for their higher education are limited. The HEC mandated four-year graduate programs do not recognize the existing two-year reduced syllabus for the deaf. Consequently, they are issued an associate degree instead of a full degree. There are no modified post-graduation programs available for deaf scholars.
The conference declaration presents its recommendations to address this problem and stresses the importance of inclusion of people with deafness as this is not only their right as endorsed by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also stressed by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The keynote address was delivered by Professor Lampros Stergioulas, UNESCO Chair for AI, The Hague University of Applied Sciences.
Inaugural session of the Conference was attended by government functionaries, diplomats, dignitaries, civil society members and students with hearing and visual challenges.
2022 is the Centennial year of the Ida Rieu Schools & Colleges for the Blind & Deaf making it the premium organization in Pakistan in the field of Special Education. This conference was planned by the school as an important part of its centennial initiatives towards empowerment of people with deafness.
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah lauded the valuable services of the association and assured support of his government for all initiatives for empowerment of special children. Federal Minister for poverty alleviation Shazia Marri also spoke on the occasion.