The Government should set up a national centre to look after children with sensitive disabilities to help parents who are stuck and without a place to give them proper education and care, legislators have recommended.
The legislators made the resolution last week after it was suggested by MPs in the parliamentary Standing Committee on Unity, Human Rights and fight against Genocide, who toured the country in September and November last year to assess the issue.
MP François Byabarumwanzi, who heads the committee, said some parents are challenged about what to do to help their children, with some of keeping them at home unless they manage to get help from charitable organisations to take care of their education, shelter, and food needs.
“You find a 10-year-old child who can’t talk, walk, or understand and the parents are extremely challenged with this. We need a specialised way to look after these children, the Government should assess this problem carefully and provide a solution,” Byabarumwanzi said.
It is not yet clear how many children in the country require special needs but the Minister of State for Community Development and Social Affairs, Dr Alvera Mukabaramba, told The New Times last week that such children are found in every corner of the country.
Though Mukabaramba agreed that the children need special care and revealed that the Government will look into the MPs’ suggestion to set up a public centre to look after the kids, she warned that it may be difficult for such a challenge to be handled without partnering with independent organisations with the proper initiatives and expertise to look after the children.
So far, the minister said, organisations that look after children with disabilities get modest funding from the Government and the children are often given access to public welfare plans like free health insurance or cows for milk.
The Government’s policy is to keep investing in special needs education to enable schools get more resources to educate children with disabilities, Mukabaramba said, emphasising that more resources will be deployed to empower both schools and teachers with the ability to provide proper special needs education.
MIGEPROF put to task
MPs at last week’s plenary session suggested that the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion (MIGEPROF)sets up a mechanism to follow up on the children with disabilities and examine if the Government can set up its own centre to look after them.
“It’s only the Government that has the ability to set up this centre and employ staff to manage it. We understand it would be an expensive project to set up this body but it’s an idea that can be carefully examined by the Government,” Byabarumwanzi told MPs in a presentation.
MP Abbas Mukama agreed, also suggesting that MIGEPROF could be in charge of managing the centre while Parliament would follow up on its work just like it keeps an eye on other public activities and projects.
Mukabaramba said such work to look after children is normally effective when conducted by people with the heart and expertise in cooperation with parents while the Government can be a partner in the process.
“It’s more effective when it’s people-owned instead of the Government taking it up. The Government can put more efforts in education for people with special needs and increase social protection funds to help the children with acute disabilities,” she said.
The issue of the state of children with acute disabilities was raised as part of the MPs’ analysis of how the Government implemented Parliament’s recommendations to address issues raised in previous reports by the National Commission for Human Rights and the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide.