Nepal calls for national cerebral palsy policy
100% of Nepali children with Neurological Disorders successfully learn to read and write in mainstream schools following specialist care provided by Nepal’s only dedicated institution.
Dhapakhel, Lalitpur, 05 March 2012 - National and international health and education experts united this week in a call for both government and educational institutions to recognise and support an estimated 70,000 suffers of Cerebral Palsy in Nepal. The drive came to a head as specialists gathered in the Hotel Himalaya, Lalitpur (Kathmandu), to agree the key steps urgently needed for action.
The seminar, ‘Moving Ahead for Designing the Future: Schooling of Nepali Children with Neurological Disorders’ unveiled the results of a study which confirms the desperate need of Cerebral Palsy sufferers in Nepal, and their potential to achieve, given the right support. The study was carried out with the objective of exploring the educational status of all those children with Neurological Disorder who were enrolled in mainstream education following the initiation of The Self-Help Group for Cerebral Palsy (SGCP).
Mr. Bimal Lal Shrestha, CEO, Self-Help Group for Cerebral Palsy, said: “The results of this study are clear and reiterate what the experts at the Self-Help Group for Cerebral Palsy have been driving. Children suffering from neurological disorders such as Cerebral Palsy can reap the benefits of education if given appropriate care and opportunity.
“Of the cases traced, 89% of children we have helped to get into mainstream education are still at school, and importantly, 100% have been able to learn essential reading and writing skills which will drive opportunities for them and their families in today’s economy.”
The study was conducted by the T.N. Centre for Education (Kathmandu University), and commissioned by NGO the Self-Help Group for Cerebral Palsy (SGCP) - the only organization in Nepal which provides specialist medical, therapeutic and educational care and support to children and young adults with Cerebral Palsy, as well as their parents, via a centre in Dhapakhel, Lalitpur, and an outreach programme which provides at-home support in Nepal’s districts.
A group discussion at the seminar identified the following next steps needed: Specialist education programmes for specialist doctors, specialist education programmes for special needs teachers, a framework for government and private schools to follow in special education, funding for the set-up of specialist institutions, government policy, education - of the general populous and specifically, education of those of child-bearing age.
“There are an estimated 70,000 cases of Cerebral Palsy in Nepal. Most sufferers, their families and their local communities are not able to independently access school care or are indeed aware of the help available. We would now call upon the government and educational institutions to recognise and support the medical, therapeutic and educational care and understanding needed to support the role of Cerebral Palsy sufferers in Nepal’s future. To conclude, it is necessary to abolish the social stigma attached to Cerebral Palsy, to improve the social as well as medical condition of those affected (both sufferer, parents and community) and provide the best possible education to each and every child, through mainstream education where possible in the revised system,” commented Mr. Shrestha.
Other recommendations around the table were the provision of computers and online resources for those sufferers in the most remote of locations unable to access support. Print, broadcast and online media should also play an important role in the education of Nepal’s population.
Sanitation was cited as a problem for children in the study who continue to attend mainstream schools.
Panellists at the event were The Secretary of Education, Mr. Kishor Thapa; Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University, Dr. Suresh Raj Sharma (Chair); Director of the T.N. Centre for Education, Dr Kedar Nath Sharma and; Professor Batuk Prasad Rajbhandari, President of the Self-Help Group for Cerebral Palsy.
Mr Bimal Lal Shrestha, CEO, Self-Help Group for Cerebral Palsy, introduced the state of Cerebral Palsy and services available , and the study findings were presented by Dr. Mahesh N Parajuli, who led the research undertaken.