Rights and disabilities in educational
provision in Pakistan and
Bangladesh: roots, rhetoric, reality
M. Miles and Farhad Hossain
This chapter reviews historical developments, notions of rights and attitudes towards disabled children underlying educational provisions in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Traditional schooling focused on rote learning by boys of wealthier families; yet some evidence exists of alternative pedagogy, girls' education and casual integration of disabled children. Knowledge of special educational methods accumulated slowly from the 1840s in private schools, but government support has always been weak. The number of disabled children casually integrated always greatly exceeded that of children receiving separate special education. Most children have had no formal education at all, but benefited from a strong and continuing right to socialization within their extended family, rather than rights understood as an individual's claims on the state. Most children are still born into a familial and local network of mutual obligations with a strong Islamic underpinning, different from but not necessarily inferior to current Western middle-class notions of individual rights and entitlements. Secular Western evangelists and Asian urban elites still offer or impose their own cultures and concepts for the 'improvement' of the masses, but seldom assess the collateral damage caused by their attempted ideological hegemony.
This chapter reviews historical developments, notions of rights and official attitudes towards disabled children underlying current educational provisions in Pakistan and Bangladesh; and enquires whether European 'human rights' and 'inclusive' approaches to disability, difference and education have had or