Friday, September 11, 2015, we drew the attention of the Liberian Government to the plight of people with disabilities and the urgent need to address such plight as it was before.
The issue raised by us is the against the backdrop of the huge presence of these Liberians – visually impaired, physically challenged, as well as mentally ill, among others, in the streets of Monrovia, its environs and other places.
While we may have singled out the Department of Social Welfare, which has now been transferred from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Gender as shouldering the responsibility for services to people with disabilities, it is also known that the Ministry of Education, through the Division of Special and Inclusive Education, has its role in the socio-economic well-being of these people.
An official source at the Education Ministry reveals that because of the apparent lack of interest, as well as zero budgetary allotment, the ministry’s ability to deliver services to persons with disabilities remains stagnated, while despite budgetary allotment, the Ministry of Health, through its Social Welfare Department, remains careless for persons with disabilities in Liberia.
Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education is currently attempting a reform process of the Liberian education system and at the same time, excluding Special and inclusive education (for persons with disabilities) in its operational policies and training programs – what an irony. Why must persons with disabilities be excluded in the reform process – are they not Liberians to benefit from such efforts?
The urgent need to have these people – especially the blind, the disabled and mentally ill, off the streets of Monrovia and elsewhere must now be the priority of the institutions charged with such responsibilities. If the Ministries of Health and Education in previous Governments of Liberia executed operational policies regarding social services intended for persons with disabilities, there should be no reasons why persons with disabilities should be begging, sleeping and even dying in the streets of Monrovia and other places.
As we challenge the Ministries of Health and Education, we can only hope that the two would better coordinate in ensuring that they revisit their operational policies for budgetary appropriation for the services needed for socio-economic growth and development of persons with disabilities. This would mean revitalization/rehabilitating centers across the country for their well-being, education, medication, as well as vocational growth, among others.