I didnt like school at all. My parents and the neighbourhood tried to get me involved but I never went because the other children made fun of me and I didnt like to study
Ashraful, the third son of a poor mason is now 20 years old. As a youngster he spent his time like millions of other rural-based boys; playing, running and skipping around the village, without a care in the world. Yet tragedy struck when Ashraful was just four years old, a sudden fever crippling him for life. No longer able to walk he felt he was a burden for his family and developed an inferiority complex. When the time came for him to go to school, a deep depression set in.
Ashraful’s family tried to enrol him in various schools in the neighbourhood but were unable to provide the guidance and encouragement needed to overcome the emotional and psychological barriers he faced. After some years, his parents gave up. Luckily last year, a faculty member of one of the neighbourhood schools was also affiliated with the ‘Amar Jyoti’ foundation which supports persons with disabilities, informed him about Akhtar Furniture Academy’s training program.
Akhtar Furniture Ltd is one of the leading furniture manufacturers in Bangladesh. To help meet their need for skilled labour, the company set up its own training academy which ILO has supported to become compliant with National Technical Vocational Quality Framework standards. The centre now provides accredited training in carpentry, lacquer polishing, wood working/machine operation and upholstery.
|Since my family couldn’t make ends meet, I agreed to train there. I was especially motivated by the promise of a permanent job.|
|I am now confident that I can do any job. I may not have legs, but I have skills. Now I can help others in my community and I am respected by all!.|
In some developed countries, persons with disabilities can more easily find jobs as workplaces are disability accessible. For Bangladesh, this requires a shift in the mindsets of employers. Businesses need to start recognising the benefits of disability inclusion which experienced employers are saying leads to a win-win situation and makes perfect business sense. This should not be seen as ‘charity’ or ‘CSR’ but rather as equitable access for people with disabilities as they exercise their right to obtain Decent Work.
A Bangladesh Business and Disability Network is being formed by the Bangladesh Employers Federation with support of the ILO. The network aims to increase the number of employers with people with disabilities in their workforce by highlighting the experiences of companies who have hired disabled workers and encouraging others to do the same.
For more information on ILO’s Global Business and Disability Network see www.businessanddisability.org