The National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD) has highlighted the high cost of education for children with autism, emphasizing the need for government intervention to ensure accessibility for economically disadvantaged families. Autism, characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behavior, poses significant obstacles to affected children's education. ALSO READ: MPs call for more support for people with Autism During a session with the Senate's Committee on Social Affairs and Human Rights on Tuesday, May 16, NCPD Executive Secretary Emmanuel Ndayisaba shed light on the private nature of schools and centers providing specialized education for children with disabilities, particularly autism. These facilities, due to limited resources, are costly and serve only a few children. At Autism Rwanda in Gisozi, for example, the cost of educating a child with autism is Rwf500,000 per term, while Silver Bells Rwanda in Kimironko charges Rwf760,000 per term. These amounts accumulate to Rwf1.5 million and nearly Rwf2.3 million per year, respectively. Ndayisaba pointed out that the intensive resource requirements of educating children with autism contribute to the high costs. He highlighted the case of Silver Bells, where a staff team of 17 cares for 19 children, emphasizing the financial burden on parents who struggle to afford Rwf760,000 per term. Although the government currently provides approximately Rwf90 million in support to disability-focused schools and centers for education and healthcare, Ndayisaba expressed concern that this amount is inadequate. NCPD has requested an increase to at least Rwf200 million. ALSO READ: Parents decry shortage of ‘special schools’ for autistic children During a budget hearing on Friday, May 12, Minister of Education Valentine Uwamariya informed the parliamentary Committee on National Budget and Patrimony that the ministry had sought Rwf650 million from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for supporting special needs schools in the upcoming fiscal year. However, the funds were not allocated. Minister Uwamariya acknowledged the high costs faced by the schools partnering with the government to provide special needs education, stressing the importance of supporting children with autism as their education remains unaffordable for many. She further agreed with lawmakers that the government should establish its own schools or centers to reduce costs and ensure sustainable education for children with disabilities. Ndayisaba echoed this recommendation, emphasizing the necessity for government-owned schools to cater to the unique needs of children with disabilities. He emphasized that not all children can thrive in the same classroom environment, citing autism as an example. The absence of government-owned schools for children with disabilities remains a pressing concern, as these children deserve equal opportunities for free education, considering the substantial resources required to support their educational needs.