ISLAMABAD - Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Salman Faruqui has said that the schools for the disabled would soon start imparting training to the students in marketable skills. He was addressing at the inaugural ceremony of consultative roundtable conference on development of Action Plan for persons with disabilities in Pakistan. He said that children with minor disabilities would be mainstreamed and poor families with disable persons were entitled to Benazir Card worth Rs 1,000 per month. The consultative roundtable was organised by Planning Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Welfare and special education and United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The roundtable was aimed at formulating action plan for persons with disabilities keeping in view national needs and international commitments. Faruqui said that paradigm shift in the function of Planning Commission was taking place and its role as mere project approving body was being transformed into knowledge-based development organisation. He announced constitution of a national task force on welfare, education, training and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities in Planning Commission, which would be chaired by Secretary Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education. He also announced establishment of National Coordination Cell on implementation of National Plan of Action in the Planning Commission in collaboration with the UNICEF. Faruqui emphasised the need of food and nutrition support to the disabled children. He hoped that food support from the World Food Programme introduced during his tenure in special education would be reintroduced for providing nutrition to poor disabled children in schools. He pointed out the need of effective enforcement of Disabled Persons (Employment and Rehabilitation) Ordinance, 1981, as 2 per cent employment quota needed to be enforced to make the persons with disabilities self-reliant. He stressed to establish the vocational and rehabilitation sections in every existing special education centre of the country so that the persons with disabilities could get market based vocational trainings and thus adequate job placement. Faruqui regretted that there was addition of only 8 schools since 44 federal government institutions for the disabled persons were established during his tenure 22 years ago. He also regretted that even though a large number of disabled children had passed high school examinations, only two institutions had been up-graded to college level. He advised that to start with college level education should be available to the disable persons at the (old) divisional level. He also advised to federal, provincial and local governments to ensure that quality residential education was available to the disable persons at tehsil level. He desired that children with minor disabilities be mainstreamed and teachers in normal schools be encouraged to attain training in special education and rewarded with special pay. Secretary Planning and Development Division Suhail Safdar highlighted the need to measure the nature and accurate extent of disability for better planning purpose. He urged to concentrate on accurate disability measurement, preventive measures, escalating medical rehabilitation services, promote inclusive education, use of technology in rehabilitative process and provision of accessible environment, legislative support and capacity building of the professionals. He drew the attention of the participants to comparatively low prevalence of 2.49 per cent disabled persons as per 1998 census report. He therefore urged on the need to adopt a paradigm shift from exclusive system of education to inclusive education system to mainstream PWDs. Secretary Ministry of Social Welfare and Special Education GM Sikandar in his speech highlighted the Ministry's efforts to address the cause of disabilities in the country. He informed that the Ministry had formulated a national Policy 2002 and Plan of Action for the persons with disabilities 2006. He urged to make the society inclusive and mainstreamed with regard to disabled persons to use their full potential in development.