Private varsities violate disability rights, benefits
KABUL (Pajhwok): A number of students with disabilities enrolled in private sector universities complain they are charged fees despite the enactment of the Rights and Benefits of People with Disabilities Law.
In compliance with Article 53th of the Constitution, the law was approved in 2010 for supporting people with disabilities in areas of economy, society, politics, culture, education, training, recreation, sports and rehabilitation.
The law was amended in 2012 and the ministries of education and higher education were made responsible for education and training of persons with disabilities. Seven percent of all scholarships offered by foreign countries should be allocated to disabled persons under the law.
Besides the above facilities, the private sector higher education institutes and universities should also allocate seven percent of their enrolment quota to entitled persons with disabilities.
Based on the law, the private universities should give a 25 percent discount in fees to people with minor disabilities.
According to the second article of the law, the ministries of public works, education and higher education should help provide the mentioned facilities to the special people.
Habib Rahman Malikzada, 28, a master’s degree student who lost both his legs in a bomb blast 17 years ago, said conditions for admission in higher education institutes were unacceptable.
A resident of central Parwan province, Malikzada said the law for people with disabilities had been amended four years ago, but most of organizations were unaware of it.
Malikzada graduated from Habibia High School of Kabul in 2009. He passed the entry test and found his way to the agriculture faculty of Nangarhar University, but he was unable to continue his education there due to his health problems.
“I was obliged to get admission in Dawat Private University in Kabul and received my bachelor in political science in 2013,” he added.
Malikzada after suffering from joblessness for two years, started his master’s degree in political science at Ibn-i-Sina University in 2016. He is currently in second semester of political science.
He said a number of physically challenged youth erected tents last year in front of the parliament in protest against non-enforcement of the law.
Some officials during the protest pledged to take decisive steps for enforcing the law, but nothing in practical was done, he added.
“Higher education for people with disabilities is very important to enhance their capacities and help them not to become burden on their families and society,” Malikzada said.
The Rights and Benefits of People with Disabilities Law orders the Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs to make a procedure for implementation of the law. But Malikzada said the procedure was yet to be implemented and the private universities did not accept some provisions of the law.
“If private universities do not accept the law and violate it, we would again gather and erect protest tents,” he warned.
Zarmina Azami, 21, a first year student of political science in Khatamun Nabiyeen University, said both of her legs were paralyzed after a crowd of people run over her during distribution of aid to refugees in Balkh province. She was two years old when the incident took place.
“I was introduced to Khatamun Nabiyeen University by the human rights commission, but the university head did not sign my letter to allow me to pursue my education free of cost and he said he did not accept the law,” she said.
She said one of her classmates in the university, another disabled girl, might leave her education due to the high amount of fee.
However, Khatamun Nabiyeen University head Abdul Qayum Sajjadi said “I accept whenever a person brings a letter from a credible source that proves his/her disability.”
“I know people with disabilities have the right to be provided with free education. If any such people come here, I will grant them education facility of their choice without any fees,” he said.
Mohammad Amir Kamawal, head of private universities and institutes at the Ministry of Higher Education, said currently 127 private institutes were active in the country where 38,000 students were studying.
“Based on the people with disability law, all persons with disabilities have the right to get higher education free of cost, no one has the right to take fees from them,” he said.
“I have told students with disabilities to contact me if they face any problems,” he added.
Kamawal added he had discussed with other relevant officials the enrolment of disabled students at private universities against the seven percent quota and with 50 percent discount.
Nafisa Sultani, head of martyrs and people with disabilities commission of the Wolesi Jirga, said he had played her role in preparing the Rights and Benefits of People with Disabilities Law.
With her one disabled, she stressed implementation of the law and said she had discussed with MoHE minister resolving the problem.
She added the Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs should evolve a practical procedure for the law’s implementation.
“It is regrettable that some healthy youth misuse the term disability and get scholarships for foreign universities,” she said.
Jamila Afghani, deputy public works and social affairs minister, said the Rights and Benefits of People with Disabilities Law was not confined to people who lost their organs to security incidents, but it was also applicable on people who were born with disabilities.
“Unfortunately higher education institutes do not cooperate with us on this matter, but we have plan to hold a joint meeting between ministries and representatives of all private higher education institutes to discuss the issue,” she said.
“We should find a practical way for providing free education to people with disabilities in private schools and higher education institutes,” she added.
According to statistics of the Ministry of Public Works and Social Affairs in 2011, there were more than 100,000 people with disabilities in Afghanistan including 1,000 of them enrolled in private universities.
Faisal Amin, public works and social affairs ministry spokesman, said 38,874 people including seven percent of them with disabilities were studying in 127 private institutes across the country.
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