The Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, made this statement yesterday at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute in Moka.
Prime Minister Jugnauth was addressing some 650 students with disabilities during an event, organised by the International Council for Physically and Mentally Challenged Students Quality Circle, to mark the 50 years of Independence of Mauritius. The Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, and other eminent personalities were also present. On that occasion, the Prime Minister and the Vice-Prime Minister presented Awards to volunteers who have worked for the well-being of challenged students.
In his address, the Prime Minister commended the concerted efforts of the parents, educators and volunteers for their dedication towards physically and mentally challenged children. The continuous support of each and everyone is imperative to ensure the progress and the participation of these children in mainstream society, he said.
In the wake of the digital era, Mr Jugnauth recalled that physically and mentally challenged children need adequate resources to adapt to the fast-changing world. Government is therefore providing a series of social aids for the welfare of children in vulnerable situations, he pointed out. These comprise: the basic invalidity pension offered to children below 15 years of age; an increase in the grant-in-aid to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for learners with Special Education Needs; the carer’s allowance; and, the provision of tools to equip challenged students in their academic journey.
With regard to the promotion of physical activities among the population, the Prime Minister mentioned the construction of the Multi-Sports complex at Côte d’Or for the forthcoming Indian Ocean Island Games next year. Citizens will be able to use the complex and benefit from an array of physical-related activities and engage in regular physical activities for a healthy lifestyle, he said.
The Prime Minister also paid homage to late Stephen William Hawking who in spite of his illness and disabilities, has contributed hugely in the scientific field. Mr Hawking should be a role-model for challenged children to nurture aspirations in their lives, he added.
Speaking about the Golden Jubilee celebrations of Independence of Mauritius and the 26th anniversary of the Republic, the Prime Minister called upon the population to show a sense of patriotism towards the country and to further consolidate unity and solidarity for its further development.
For her part, Vice-Prime Minister Jeewa-Daureeawoo emphasised that the rights of every citizen of the country should be respected for the promotion of an inclusive society. She highlighted the contribution of people with disabilities in the socioeconomic progress of Mauritius. All forms of discrimination should be eliminated and no obstacles should hinder disabled people in succeeding in their lives, she insisted while recalling that disability is certainly a difficulty but should not be considered as a form of weakness.
The Vice-Prime Minister appealed to parents, the civil society and NGOs to continue providing support to children suffering from disabilities. On that score, she referred to Jane Constance as an example to emulate as Ms Constance has been able to showcase her singing talents both locally and internationally with the continued support of her parents.
The International Council for Physically and Mentally Challenged Students Quality Circle has as objectives to promote the integration of challenged students in schools and adults in society; bring challenged students into the Students Quality Circle and ultimately help them to become a Total Quality Person; and, undertake training of trainees, teachers, officers for promoting the education, training and rehabilitation of challenged students.
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