First Lady Defends Disabled Children

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Madam Zeinab Jammeh

The Gambia’s First Lady wants developing countries to fully integrate persons with disabilities into all spheres of social and economic activities.

Fatou Mass Jobe, tourism and culture minister, who deputized for Madam Zeinab Yahya Jammeh at the commemoration of the African Child Day in Brikama on Saturday, said integration of disabled persons “will not only help us eliminate all forms of discrimination against persons with disabilities but would also enable us accelerate our development process.”

This year’s commemoration theme focuses on the rights of children with disability, which according to Mrs. Jammeh,“emphasizes the right of children with disability to the same opportunities and care as other children.”

The Day of African Child is meant to honor unarmed hundreds of unarmed children killed in the 1976 Soweto uprising. It’s also set aside for the continent to look into the plights of African children.

Madam Jammeh said since 80 percent of the world’s disabled persons live in developing countries, the “issue is posing not only a medical challenge but also economic and social challenges.”

“Without the relevant education and skills,” she concurred, “some may become dependent on their families and communities for life.” She said this is contrary to Article 24 of the United Nations Convention advocating an inclusive education for persons with disability.

“Every child has the potential to learn and have a fulfilled life,” she said, adding that as leaders, parents, teachers and members of various communities, it is “our responsibilities to facilitate learning opportunities for the children of our beloved country.

“Helping our own children and others we care for to acquire knowledge and skills is a noble and rewarding task not only for the teachers but also for every responsible citizen,” Mrs. Jammeh said, expressing the government’s commitment to improving “access to quality education for all school going age children and to open up opportunities for them to excel in all fields of higher education.’’