DA NANG (VNS)— Children with disabilities and their communities would both benefit if society focused on what those children can achieve, rather than what they cannot, according to UNICEF's annual State of the World Children report announced in Da Nang yesterday.
Concentrating on the abilities and potential of children with disabilities would create benefits for society as a whole, said the report.
"When you see the disability before the child, it is not only wrong for the child, but it deprives society of all that child may offer," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, stressing, "their loss is society's loss; their gain is society's gain."
"The State of the World Children 2013: Children with Disabilities", says that children with disabilities are the least likely to receive healthcare or go to school.
They are among the most vulnerable to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect, particularly if they are hidden or placed in institutions – as many are because of social stigma or the economic cost of raising them.
Stigma and discrimination and limited skills among education managers and teachers result in limited schooling for these children.
According to data from the 2009 census, only 66.5 per cent of primary school-aged children with disabilities were attending school compared to 97 per cent of the national average.
Viet Nam's childcare centres for those with disabilities are ill-equipped, while children with disabilities account for the majority of the 20,000 children living in institutions.
A shortage of trained professionals such as social workers, and a lack of community-based support services are shortcomings in the country's disabled childcare system.
"Many teachers don't want to join schools for disabled children because it means more work on a low salary of VND3 million per month," said Dang Thanh Tung, director of the Da Nang Education Development Centre for Disabled Children.
The Government should create policies for teachers in schools for disabled children to create good conditions for them to continue their hard work, she said.
The report outlines three broad areas where urgent action is needed to improve the situation for children with disabilities, including a more inclusive society, addressed discrimination of children with disabilities and better data on disabled children.
Vice President Nguyen Thi Doan said that many children in Viet Nam were disabled due to war, particularly from toxic chemicals, landmines and other explosives left over from the conflict.
"It is a big challenge for the country to ensure the rights of children with disabilities and include them in socio-economic life," she said. Viet Nam wants to continue co-operating with UNICEF and international organisations to create a better environment for children with disabilities so that they are recognised as a full member of the family, community and society, she said. — VNS