Written by Abeera Ahmed
Photos credits: Syed Abdullah Hameed, Humqadam/Islamabad
With slight modification in school's infrastructure, Humqadam-SCRP is ensuring access to education across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces in Pakistan. The inclusion of ramps and wheelchair accessible toilets is turning the tide for mobility impaired students and teachers that wish to attend school. Such infrastructure is in keeping with the Universal Design approach to provide greatest usability to the greatest number of people by creating improved environment with minimal additional costs.
Ms. Misbah Mukthar is a senior teacher at Government Girls Elementary School (GGES) Rahang, District Sialkot, Punjab province. Afflicted with polio since childhood, she has fought the odds to gain an education and to become a quality educator. Though it was not always easy, Misbah has found ways to work around her disability. She recalls,
Adopted in November 2015, Humqadam provisioned GGES Rahang an inclusive academic block with four classrooms which are accessible through ramps and stairs. This slight change in the school infrastructure has paved a way to better education for all. Misbah can now comfortably commute to the new academic block without the fear of falling.
All the teachers at school are actively promoting the new building with the hopes of attracting more children surrounding villages, particularly PWDs and girls.
Misbah is a source of inspiration for young girls in her community. With the school’s accessible solution for PWDs, Asiya, another mobility impaired teacher transferred to GGES Rahang to enhance the potential of young children.
Humqadam-SCRP has set the pace for an all-inclusive learning culture in 306 completed schools across Punjab province. An additional 245 school are under construction which will provide improved educational experience for children. All of the schools provisioned by Humqadam-SCRP are mandated to have at least one ramp and wheelchair-accessible toilet cubicle. A strong message of inclusiveness and accessibility is being sent to the community and the education stakeholders to ensure all children, with and without disability, are a part of the education system.