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Children with Down syndrome in Bangladesh need empowerment

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Mar 22, 2022 - 12:45 PM

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – Rafan Razzak, 13, is among the thousands of Bangladeshi children born with Down syndrome.

His mother, Shahanaz Parvin Chowdhury said children with Down syndrome in Bangladesh are denied their fundamental rights mainly due to the prevailing social stigma about the genetic disorder.

Many people think a child with Down syndrome is a family curse and that it is contagious,” said Chowdhury ahead of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21.

“A child with special needs requires special care … and our conventional education system is hardly suitable for them,” the mother of three children said.

Chowdhury went on to say that the country lacks an educational curriculum for children with special needs, thereby hampering their “employment and empowerment.


Speaking to the Anadolu Agency, Sarder A Razzak, chairman of Down Syndrome Society of Bangladesh, said there is no government report on how many people in Bangladesh have Down syndrome.

“On average, one in every 800 children is born with the syndrome globally and based on the global estimate about 2,000 to 3,000 children are born in Bangladesh every year with symptoms of Down syndrome.”

The pandemic came as a double blow for the schooling of children with special needs children, said A Razzak, who also runs a center for children with Down syndrome.

Prolonged suspension of classes caused many schools to shut down operations permanently, he added, after failing to pay salaries and other expenses.

Curriculum for special needs education

Hakim Arif, professor at the Department of Communication Disorders, University of Dhaka, told Anadolu Agency that children with Down syndrome face language, thinking and other problems related to brain or intellectual function due to cognitive difficulties.

“Therefore, these children learn slowly and require special educational care. And, the conventional schooling and curriculum are not appropriate for them,” he added.

“A handful of government and private special schools, mostly Dhaka-based, are providing special education for children with Down syndrome. But we don’t have a comprehensive curriculum for the schools which has become a challenge for their further education and empowerment,” Arif said.

Concerned educators, activists and experts in the field have already conveyed their concern over the curriculum to the government and a government agency is supposed to work on it, he added.

Probhash Chandra Roy, director planning at the National Foundation for Development of Disabled Persons, also admitted that there is no unified or government approved curriculum for the schooling of special needs children.

“We don’t have a comprehensive syllabus or authorized curriculum from the government end to run special needs schools. We are working on it and hope that it will be finalized soon,” he said.

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