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Sunday, 23 November 2008

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Disabled students need more places in universities

Though Sri Lanka has 13 universities, it was pathetic that only 48 disabled students were enroled in university courses during the past five years, said President, Sri Lanka Medical Association, Prof. Lalitha Mendis.

She proposed that the Educational authorities should enrol a significant number of disabled students to local universities considering their inborn talents and abilities in addition to their educational qualifications.

Referring to certain comments she made at a meeting in Colombo

on `Disability in Sri Lanka’, Prof. Mendis said that Sri Lanka will have a large number of disabled persons in the next few years and steps must be taken to provide adequate facilities for them to live as equals with others.

She said the Government and other organisations currently engaged in social service activities will have to play a vital role to meet the requirements of this community and also to uplift their social status.

“I discussed the problems faced by disabled students including their enrolments in universities at the University of Colombo Council sometime back and I think the Ministry of Higher Education and the University Grants Commission should request universities to enrol more disabled students,”

She said when the intake of disabled students to universities is increased the students must also be provided with adequate funds to create a suitable learning and living environment.

“I remember when a certain university decided to install a lift to enable disabled students to attend lectures in the upper floors of the building, several other students protested that the expenditure could not be justified as it served only a few students.

Prof. Mendis also said that of the 6.6 billion population, 10 per cent are disabled in the world and many countries have already taken measures to meet the demands of this community while improving their living standards.

In providing employment to disabled persons, Prof. Mendis said there was a Government regulation that every State and private sector institution should allocate at least 3 per cent of employment opportunities for the disabled.

“If this is carried out properly it will be a great benefit for the most vulnerable community,” she said.

She called upon the authorities to pay a special attention towards improving their vocational skills such as woodwork training, carpentry, masonry, lace making, tailoring and patchwork.

 

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