Various barriers still hinder the development of people with disabilities, particularly those living in rural areas and who lack access to education, vocational training, and employment.
This was the message delivered yesterday by Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Prof. DrKhamkeoSanbounkhounxay, when addressing the Australia Development Research Award Scheme (ADRAS) workshop in Vientiane.
The workshop was convened to discuss the findings of research with the aim of improving access to social and economic services by people with disabilities.
Prof. DrKhamkeo highlighted the efforts the government has made in implementing the Convention on the Rights of People with Disability, to which Laos has been a party since September 2009.
The National Committee for People with Disability was established to research policies and regulations, aiming to protect and promote the development of Lao people with disabilities.
He noted that the Law on Labour and the Law on Education, in whose amendment the ministry was involved, have offered opportunities for Lao people with disabilities to access vocational training and employment, and inclusive education.
But the deputy minister said that although the Lao Disabled People’s Association, in cooperation with Handicap International, had piloted a project on employer and employee integration, and a project on SME promotion, these projects did not meet the needs of people with disabilities as the good practice model was not expanded to the provinces.
With funding support from Australian AID, technical support from Curtin University, and in partnership with various development partners, a project titled Improving Economic and Social Inclusion through Disability-Inclusive Development in Laos was conducted from 2013 to 2016.
The project, which sought to identify barriers and facilitators for disability-inclusive development, carried out research in 24 villages of six districts in the provinces of Xayaboury, Vientiane and Savannakhet.
Of the 305 individual interviewees aged above 5, some 7.5 percent said they were disabled, while 17.6 percent said they had mild difficulty as a result of disability, 7 percent had moderate difficulty, and 1.2 percent were unable to do anything for themselves.
Following the survey, fewer people with disability participated in vocational training, as 6.8 percent aged 18 to 59 had already taken courses. Participation was lowest among females.
Around 67 percent of male interviewees and 65 percent of female interviewees are employed. About 15 percent of male interviewees and 26.1 percent of female interviewees earned no income from their current work.
At the workshop, which continues today, participants will continue to discuss and hear recommendations for policy, service provision and advocacy in addressing the barriers experienced by people with disabilities.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update September 21, 2016)