Hon Julius Nye Cuffie, the disabled MP of the ruling APC, has called on the government to pay attention on disability issues.
The MP was yesterday contributing to the bill entitled the Appropriation Act 2008, being an act to authorize expenditure from the Consolidated Fund for the services of Sierra Leone. While highlighting the problems facing the disabled in the country, Mr Cuffie informed parliament that immediately he won his seat he visited disability schools where he found out that they needed great support. He mentioned that the school for the blind, deaf and dumb, and the mentally retarded were in deplorable states and upon his investigation, he found out that all what past governments were helping out was giving handouts in the form of sub-ventions which were not enough. He accepted the fact that education was expensive and more expensive in educating special needs like people living with disabilities. “In as much as women’s issues are propelled it should be done in abeyance with disability issues, and I believe that this current government will allow the about 450,000 disabled persons to become state liabilities,” he said. He further commented that the theme that underpinned the budget was poverty reduction and made reference to a DFID paper in 2004 which stated that disability was the cause and consequence of poverty, which to him meant persons living with disability were the poorest of the poor. “If we want to eradicate poverty and meet the MDGs by 2015 greater attention should be paid to persons with disability”, he said Also Mr Cuffie made a case for the physically impaired persons as facing serious challenges in education “These deaf and dumb do not darken the doors of higher education because there are no trained and qualified sign language interpreters to aid the normal teachers. Immediately after basic education they became drop outs,” he stressed. “We want our disabled to become professionals and without capacity building they will become drop outs,” he ended.