Children with disabilities face numerous barriers to inclusion in their communities and society.
In total, approximately twenty five thousands children in Tajikistan are registered with disabilities – 0.8 per cent of the child population.
This is much less than the global average of 15 per cent indicated by the World Health Organization, indicating that the number of children with disabilities may in practice be much higher than official statistics suggest.
Conditions for those children who are registered are still quite difficult. Parents are advised to have their children assessed through Pedagogical, Medical, Psychological Consultation (PMPCs) and Medical, Pedagogical Commissions (MPCs), but screening tools and assessment standards are not uniform across the country, and thus the process is acknowledged to be a major barrier.
According to a 2016 UNICEF study, societal stigmatization and negative perceptions of disability add to the obstacles faced by children with disabilities in accessing education.
The discriminatory attitude to children with disabilities prevails.
It is very challenging to ensure coverage of children with disabilities in mainstream education due to the limited accessible infrastructure and resources, and a lack of pedagogical staff trained to differentiate teaching approaches to facilitate the learning of all students based on their individual needs.In addition, gender inequality in accessing education is an issue of concern. For instance, it is perceived to be easier for boys with disabilities than girls with disabilities to be enrolled in school.
Stigma and discrimination against children with disabilities are substantial, social infrastructure is inadequate, and the capacity of service providers is poor. These children may be orphaned, or their families may think they are too poor to care for them or unwilling to do so because of the social stigma still attached to disability, or community care or foster care might not be available.
Placing children in institutions has been the norm since Soviet times, but experts question this approach and are seeking alternatives. However, social workers and facilities that focus on integration are scarce, and where such facilities do exist, they fill up rapidly: a testament to their success.