In Tajikistan, disability is stigmatised and children are sent to state institutions or hidden away at home. In the country of 8 million people, social attitudes and stigma play a significant role in limiting the possibilities for children with special educational needs.
Over 125,000 people live with learning disabilities in Tajikistan, 19,000 are under sixteen years old and 1,447 children are orphans. Just 2,500 children are registered with a special education institution. Alas, the data contradicts with reality, as many are not accounted for or have not been physically seen over the years. Hence, inconsistent, inaccurate, incomplete and out-of-date data is exacerbating the issue.
Very few of these children with special educational needs attend school. Apparently, the standards don’t allow enough flexibility for students who learn differently. But, parents in Tajikistan have begun to stand up for their children’s rights. They advocate for change and betterment, lobby with schools, local authorities and ministries to facilitate the inclusion of their children in mainstream schools.
Together with the Association of Parents of Disabled Children (APDC) in the capital, Dushanbe, QNET and RYTHM Foundation have embarked on a joint venture in building a tight–knit friendship across Tajikistan and Malaysia to give these children a better future.
A day care centre for children with learning disabilities was founded by APDC in March 2006. These parents realised that their children face tremendous challenges and are often isolated. The APDC aims to integrate children in to society, teach them that they have the right to education, empowerment, and motivate them to live a full and active life.
QNET provided toys, exercise equipment and groceries for the day care centre (see pictures).
The initial idea came about from a group of Independent Representatives in Tajikistan, a group of caring individuals with a big heart. Our Representatives in Tajikistan observed that the centre is in great need for qualified teachers and basic essentials. With QNET’s assistance, they can now run the school smoothly, hire qualified teachers who can give the children their dignity, adapt to changes and try out new things for the betterment of their students. QNET is the first corporate based company to offer a helping hand in keeping the school running and hiring qualified specialists to give these children the best education and moral support they need.
RYTHM Foundation and QNET have been quietly working with the APDC for close to a year. Currently, there are seventy five children in association with the pilot scheme. With Taarana as our spearhead, we will constantly keep track of students’ development and assess the success of the programme.
Here at RYTHM Foundation, we know that there are many parents out there who have children with special needs. These are the parents who are overjoyed when they see their child picking up a spoon and eating on their own, or flashing a simple smile. Their daily struggles are the things that we do in a blink of an eye. QNET and RYTHM Foundation join hands together to make the world a better place for them.