islamabad - Pakistan does not have complete data of special children due to the suspension of census many times due to spate of terrorism the country has long faced.

Minister of State for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhary said this while speaking at an event here yesterday. He said though no updated statistics of special children are available in the country, previous estimates suggest that about one million children are suffering from disabilities in the country.

The national census that was due to be held after 18 years has been deferred due to security concerns and unavailability of troops. Addressing a seminar held here at National Special Centre for mentally challenged children to observe World Autism Day, the minister said that Islam is the first religion which took necessary steps for the facilities and necessities of the special citizens.

He said that five special education centres of the capital have also been transferred to the ministry of CADD and these would be upgraded with latest facilities through Prime Minister’s Education Reforms Programme. He lauded the efforts of Ishrat Masood, Director General of the centre, for her work despite lack of teachers and other staff in the institution.

The government, he said, is standing beside these special children with determination to educate and prepare them for their future endeavours, so that they can lead their life like normal people. Dr Tariq Fazal commended the efforts of National Special Centre for Mentally Challenged Children for building an autism unit on self-help basis, saying the centre is working successfully for training and education of autistic children and awareness in the society.

In this regard he said, with the cooperation of Autism Spectrum Disorder Resource Centres Lahore and Rawalpindi, workshops and training programs have been arranged for the professional training of teachers and other staff.

He said the government will allocate more funds to conduct more workshops in this regard and an institution would be set up at PIMS for improving mental health of children, adding teachers would be sent to this institute for training in psychiatric subjects. In her opening remarks DG Special Education Ishrat Masood while talking about the history and performance of autism unit said that the first unit started working in April last year and till now the number of children have been increasing.

She urged all schools to welcome these special children while adopting inclusive education. She said new technology and equipments would be provided to improve the quality of learning and listening of special children.

She sought the government’s support for parents and teachers and to increase the expenditure of public educational institutions to improve their performance.