Disability rights group slams govt, UEC discrimination

YANGON — A disability rights group has slammed recent notices from the Ministry of Education and Union Election Commission that appear to discriminate against people with disability.

The notices, which are undated but appear to be from late 2016 and were recently shared on social media, state that people with a disability will not be considered for positions at the UEC or allowed to enroll in teacher training at the ministry.

Ko Wanna Kyaw Zwa from the Myanmar Federation for Persons with Disability said it planned to submit a formal protest to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, Ministry of Education and UEC over the notices.

“I personally cannot accept the statement and I believe it defames all disabled people,” said Wanna Kyaw Zwa, who also represents the Shwe Min Tha Foundation.

“We have discussed over the phone on this case [with our members] and we [the federation] will soon respond to the statement,” he said, adding that they were also considering holding a press conference.

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Pathein College, under the Ministry of Education, issued a notice concerning teacher training programs for 2016-17 in which it said that applicants with a disability would be “sent back to their home” if they sat for an interview to enroll in the course.

Further, the UEC said in a job vacancy notice for computer programmers that only people who do not have a disability would be considered for employment.

Neither the Ministry of Education nor the UEC responded to requests for comment.

The notices appear to violate multiple sections of the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which was enacted in June 2015.

The law states that people with disabilities shall have “equal rights on an equal basis with others”. Specifically, they will enjoy “the right to access education on an equal basis” and employers are required to provide equal rights and opportunities. While this is “based on employability of the persons with disabilities”, it raises doubts about an outright ban on a person with a disability applying for a position.

Meanwhile, section 349(a) of the constitution states that all citizens “shall enjoy equal opportunity” in public employment.

According to the 2014 census, 4.6 percent of the population had a disability in at least one of four categories: seeing, hearing, walking and remembering/mental.

Wanna Kyaw Zwa said the recent notices sent the message the government did not consider people with disabilities a human resource.

He said this was possibly because government policy blocked children with a disability from attending mainstream schools, and as a result a large proportion of disabled missed out on education.

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