Demystifying De-globalization in Post-Covid World

“Society is never the same as the one that existed before the calamity. For good or ill, calamities are unquestionably the supreme disruptors and transformers of social organization and institutions.”(Pritim Sorokin)

The Covid19 pandemic invaded the world like a silent dark shadow. Originating as pneumonia alike disease in the city of Wuhan in China on December 31, 2019, the pandemic has completely paralyzed the world[1]. As of August 15, 2020, the pandemic infected almost 21 million people and caused close to 750,000 deaths worldwide[2]. It is argued that the viral spread has not only affected people’s health, but also the global economy with a rapid economic recession along with severe rising humanitarian crises and social changes[3]. Authors like John Gray, suggest that under this pandemic, globalization will come to end, resulting in more fragmented world[4]. The pandemic also “exposed fatal weaknesses in the economic system that was patched up after the 2008 financial crisis” says John gray. Likewise, the measures adopted or enforced to stop the spread the viral infection has changed the way people live and work, such as working remotely, online learning, pandating (sex, love and dating)[5], tele-health, and home entertainment[6], creating self-centralization, protectionism and strong nationalism, with close borders to contain the viral spread[7]. These abrupt changes imply that globalization is over, and the world is moving towards isolation instead of global cohesion. However, after conducting a secondary research on various aspects of de-globalization and the impact of covid19, it can be concluded that these predictions or changes never implies that globalization is going to die, or shift to small-scale localism, rather, it will reshape its features, scale and magnitude of globalization and societal changes in post-covid world.

We know that Globalization is a growing interdependence, and the recent pandemic shows how this interdependence could be driven relating to economies, culture and populations influenced by flows of people, information, money, media, trade and technology. While the economies globally are affected by the pandemic, with billions of dollars are lost in several industries, unemployment, closing borders and trading, and has an unrest in the society. However, several countries developed the coping mechanism and adopted this change.

Despite being severe in both scale and depth, one fortunate thing is that the pandemic occurred in today’s digital age[8] where we used advanced technologies as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, smart sensors, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile and location technologies, virtual and augmented reality (VR & AR), cloud computing, and autonomous systems[9], to mitigate its effects both on economy, society and human lives. While its true that pandemic like the Black Death or 1918 influenza had huge ramifications for the world afterwards, but which of these changes will have a lasting impact on society and ultimately globalization, and whether those previous pandemic ended the notion of “globalization”, we never see again, need a closer look.

The first argument lies in dissolving the traditional sources of social cohesion and political legitimacy and replacing them with the promise of rising economics and living standards through globalization and inter-dependencies. Socio-economic analysts like John Gray claiming “De-globalization” believe that this experiment has now run its course, as suppressing the virus necessitates an economic shutdown and immobility. However, such prepositions are supported by any ground realities or empirical evidence. Their main argument lies on the single notion of globally integrated capitalist system marked by relationships of domination between centre and periphery. But, it is far more complex and not merely an economic and political process, but also a social, cultural, and even environmental phenomenon.We know that, these shutdown can only be temporary, and even many world economies like China, South Korea, Pakistan performed well through “smart lockdown”, with little impact on global supply chain, an essence of globalization. Similarly, many countries begin to open their trading and will start visa services business across Asia and EU.

Second argument suggests that the pandemic will induce inequality, racial discrimination or xenophobia, consequently, collapsing the pluralistic world. As the early counts of deaths in the US showed that coronavirus killed far more black and Latino people in comparison to the percentage of population that they represent – as in New York City, the rate was twice as much for those populations than for white people[10]. Similarly, the rise in xenophobic attacks against Asian immigrants in Europe, Australia, and US also created unrest among nationals and government of these countries. . However, the “chronological account of the world shows that during 1853, the yellow-fever epidemic in the United States and European immigrants, who were perceived to be more vulnerable to the disease, were also primary targets of stigmatization”. During the SARS outbreak, which originated in China, East Asian bore the brunt. When the Ebola outbreak emerged in 2014, Africans were targeted[11]. Hence, it’s not the first time that people from the origin of a disease country are targeted and whether this means people from these countries or the government ended their trade with the US, Europe or Australia?

Even though no one can deny the fact that the COVID-19 thrive the negative effects on the health of minorities (Asian-American, latino and black) and other vulnerable groups, there are reasons for optimism as well. These include the emergence of mechanisms for reporting and tracking incidents of racial bias, increased awareness of racism’s insidious harms and subsequent civic and political engagement by the Asian American community, and building resilience-promoting factors that can reduce the negative health effects of racism. Likewise, in terms of the inequality, all those seem to be examples of immobility rather than changes during pandemic[12]. Indeed, humanity’s past experience with pandemics is telling when it comes to radical change. The record shows that “inequality can be disrupted with pandemics”, but only in those cases where it involves “massive death”. Such was the case with the fourteenth-century Black Death, which killed as much “a third of the population of Europe, whereby labour shortage resulting from the decimation of populations ended up doubling or tripling wages for ordinary farmers and craftsmen[13]. On other hand, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have prompted many national governments, INGOs and Financial institutions to timidly decide to dedicate larger resources to programs like employment retention, social safety net, care and social protection, making the mental and political shift towards valuing care, protection of indigenous, immigrants and marginalized communities. This is evident from several developed and developing countries such as Pakistan[14], China, South Korea[15], Spain[16] who spend even at much larger than ever in history.

Another argument is based on our recent experiences of the imposition of lockdown as a shock to the world free system- as people’s freedom or mobility is restricted, making us feel lonely or listless or anxious. But while “physically distanced”, the internet and social media have allowed us to reach into each other’s homes even more than ever. The estimates from We are Social (2020), showed an “increase of 7% in the use of the internet with respect to the previous year in 2019 in global terms, meaning 298 million new users, the growth in active users of social networks experienced a growth of 9.2% as compared to the 2019, which implies 321 million more users interacting in the networks.”[17] In Spain alone, it was calculated that Social media consumption increased by 55% where people were using these media to mingle with Spanish and other nationals[18]. Hence, the Social relationships for many seem not to have suffered. This new normal and social media have also allowed us to explore hobbies and interests we might never have had before – like the people turning to social media to solve real-life mysteries from their homes[19]. However, it is also important to maintain a balance between leveraging the science and technology, social media and protecting people’s privacy as it has been more challenging to trace the Covid-19 cases in the USA than in countries like China or South Korea due to varying nature of different privacy laws.[20]

Similarly, despite a great disruptive and painful, covid19 also invariably nurtures the emergence of great common purpose, solidarity, creativity, and improvisation. It not only prompted widespread expressions of mutual solidarity and support from States, civil society but at the individual level that transcended socioeconomic status and backgrounds. This pandemic also opened a little windows into how everybody else has responded and found their own coping mechanisms from addressing the shortages of commonplace items, or difficulties in getting out to the shops, health facilities or securing help, people came, joined the campaign both online and offline to serve the underserved communities (such as minorities, sex workers and transgenders), reinforcing global efforts to reduce marginalization and gender-biases. While people have not only accepted the restriction of “individual freedom on mobility” but, voluntarily and from deep conviction, practice consideration of their neighbor, who might be weaker and more vulnerable than they are, regardless of their religion, nationality or caste. “I am moved when I see how friendly and humane most people are acting in the COVID-19 crisis. That gives me hope, particularly as I had not expected so much community spirit” says the Bishop Ralf Meister from Germany[21].

Likewise, the perpetual rise in the incidences of divorce i.e. in China, provoke the notion that it happened only due to the pandemic. However, it wouldn’t be fair to completely blame coronavirus for an increase in divorce rates and relationship issues, as there are several other factors (age, incompatibility during summer breaks, holidays) as Neuropsychologist, Dr. Hafeez revealed that “many of her clients already knew they had issues in their marriage before COVID-19, and their problems only worsened during lockdown”[22]. Similarly, University of Washington research considered divorce rates to be“seasonal”; as when couples who do not live together may be forced to take long periods of time apart or re-evaluate wedding plans, which can create a new set of stressors and lead to breakups[23].

The pandemic perhaps also unlocked an inner creativity and resourcefulness of many communities, as many of us have more time on our hands these days, to start home gardening, Kitchening, allowing people of different nations, sharing foods recipes, books recommendation, and culture, reconnecting us with something that is increasingly lost in hectic modern life – from rebuilding personal relationship with intimate partners and families, to link with other people. In that sense, a vital priority ahead is an upscaling one: “to extend care from individual bodies to what allows them to persist: relationships, ecosystems, and the biosphere, the whole planet[24]” that consequently will support the idea of global citizenship and assert changing the features and scale of globalization after pandemic.

The pandemic will also positively shift in expectations and workplace culture, where employees are valued on how well they meet their deliverable targets on time, not how many hours they sit behind their desk in the office. Hence, workers no longer need to remain within commuting distance of the office, but can live wherever most convenient or desirable. And the knock-on effect of this would be “ residential property values dropping in major cities, and more people moving out into the suburbs or rural areas: a reversal of the trend seen since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution[25].

In conclusion, history demonstrates the dynamism and resilience of global connections despite the very catastrophes that globalization provoked. In the light of past experiences, it would be risky to predict deep renunciation of interconnection and interdependence. Since, even in the past, consequences of of such catastrophes disprove the assertions of those who prophesy globalization’s end, and major conflicts had provoked unprecedented global interactions. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic does not mean the end of globalization; it doesn’t even mean the beginning of de-globalization, but neo-globalization, reshaping its nature, at social, political, environmental fronts, countries will continue to adopt, learn from other each: a more global interdependence will continue to be a defining feature of our time.

End Notes


[1] Blackburn et al., Digital strategy in a time of crisis. McKinsey Digital, April 22, 2020

[2] Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Coronavirus Resource Center. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

[3] Stoll, J.D. Crisis has jump-started America’s innovation engine: What took so long? Wall Street Journal, April 10. 2020

[4] John Gray, Why the crises is turning point in history? Published in New States Man, April 1, 2020 https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/04/why-crisis-turning-point-history

[5] The Economist. Pandating: coronavirus and the language of love. Published on July 15 2020 Available on https://www.economist.com/1843/2020/07/15/pandating-coronavirus-and-the-language-of-love

[6] Lee, S., & Trimi, S. Convergence innovation in the digital age and in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Journal of Business Research, forthcoming in 2020.

[7] Ibidi

[8] Guy, 2019; Trimi, 2020

[9] Tonby & Woezel. Could the next normal emerge from Asia? McKinsey & Company, April 8. 2020

[10] New York Times. Virus Is Twice as Deadly for Black and Latino People Than Whites in N.Y.C. Published on April 8, 2020

Retrieved online from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-race-deaths.html

[12] Christos Zografos. Covid recovery and radical social change. Published online 7th July, 2020. The Ecologist. Available online at https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/07/covid-recovery-and-radical-social-change

[13] Evans, Richard J. “Epidemics and Revolutions: Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Europe.” Past & Present, no. 120 (1988): 123-46. Accessed November 9, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/650924.

[14] The News International. Pakistan ranked top in Asia for social protection amid Covid-19. Oct 6, 2020 Retrieved from https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/725452-pakistan-ranked-top-in-asia-for-social-protection-amid-covid-19

[16] Maria Dalli. The minimum vital income, a question of rights. 2020 retrieved from http://blogs.infolibre.es/alrevesyalderecho/?p=5781

[17] Hootsuite We are social. Digital 2020. [(accessed on 18 July 2020)];Abril Glob. Statshot Rep. 2020 Retrieved from: https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/04/digital-around-the-world-in-april-2020

[18] Pérez-Escoda, A., Jiménez-Narros, C., Perlado-Lamo-de-Espinosa, M., & Pedrero-Esteban, L. M. (2020). Social Networks’ Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Spain: Health Media vs. Healthcare Professionals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(14), 5261. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145261

[19] Frank Swain (2020). BBC Future. The people solving mysteries during lockdown. Available online https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200612-how-to-help-the-world-during-lockdown

[20] Chen, Z. COVID-19: A revelation – A reply to Ian Mitroff. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 156, 1-2. 2020

[21] COVID-19: New awareness of social cohesion growing in the crisis. Available online https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/covid-19-new-awareness-social-cohesion-growing-crisis

[22] Spectrum News New York. Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Created a Spike in Divorces? Available online at https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/06/27/has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-created-a-spike-divorces-

[23] University of Washington. Is Divorce Seasonal? UW Research Shows Biannual Spike in Divorce Filings. Published online 16 August, 2016. Available online https://www.newswise.com/articles/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings

[24] Nonunadimeno. La Vita Oltre La Pandemia. 2020 available on https://nonunadimeno.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/la-vita-oltre-la-pandemia/

[25] Ibidi

Bibliography

Blackburn et al., Digital strategy in a time of crisis. McKinsey Digital, April 22, 2020

Chen, Z. COVID-19: A revelation – A reply to Ian Mitroff. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, 156, 1-2. 2020

Christos Zografos. Covid recovery and radical social change. Published online 7th July, 2020. The Ecologist. Available online at https://theecologist.org/2020/jul/07/covid-recovery-and-radical-social-change

COVID-19: New awareness of social cohesion growing in the crisis. Available online https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/covid-19-new-awareness-social-cohesion-growing-crisis

Evans, Richard J. “Epidemics and Revolutions: Cholera in Nineteenth-Century Europe.” Past & Present, no. 120 (1988): 123-46. Accessed November 9, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/650924.

Frank Swain (2020). BBC Future. The people solving mysteries during lockdown. Available online https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200612-how-to-help-the-world-during-lockdown

Guy, J. S. Digital technology, digital culture and the metric/nonmetric distinction. Technology Forecasting & Social Change, 145, 55-61. 2019.

Hootsuite We are social. Digital 2020. [(accessed on 18 July 2020)];Abril Glob. Statshot Rep. 2020 Retrieved from: https://wearesocial.com/blog/2020/04/digital-around-the-world-in-april-2020

John Gray, Why is the crisis a turning point in history? Published in New States Man, April 1, 2020 https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/04/why-crisis-turning-point-history

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Coronavirus Resource Center. Retrieved from https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/

Lee, S., & Trimi, S. Convergence innovation in the digital age and in the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Journal of Business Research, forthcoming in 2020.

Maria Dalli. The minimum vital income, a question of rights. 2020 retrieved from http://blogs.infolibre.es/alrevesyalderecho/?p=5781

Mauro Testaverde. Social protection for migrants during the COVID-19 crisis: The right and smart choice. APRIL 28, 2020. Available online https://blogs.worldbank.org/voices/social-protection-migrants-during-covid-19-crisis-right-and-smart-choice

New York Times. Virus Is Twice as Deadly for Black and Latino People Than Whites in N.Y.C. Published on April 8, 2020. Retrieved online from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/nyregion/coronavirus-race-deaths.html

Nonunadimeno. La Vita Oltre La Pandemia. 2020 available on https://nonunadimeno.wordpress.com/2020/04/28/la-vita-oltre-la-pandemia/

Pérez-Escoda, A., Jiménez-Narros, C., Perlado-Lamo-de-Espinosa, M., & Pedrero-Esteban, L. M. Social Networks’ Engagement During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Spain: Health Media vs. Healthcare Professionals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(14), 5261. 2020 https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145261

Spectrum News New York. Has the Coronavirus Pandemic Created a Spike in Divorces? Available online at https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/news/2020/06/27/has-the-coronavirus-pandemic-created-a-spike-divorces-

Stoll, J.D. Crisis has jump-started America’s innovation engine: What took so long? Wall Street Journal, April 10. 2020

The Economist. Pandating: coronavirus and the language of love. Published on July 15 2020 Available on https://www.economist.com/1843/2020/07/15/pandating-coronavirus-and-the-language-of-love

The News International. Pakistan ranked top in Asia for social protection amid Covid-19. Oct 6, 2020 Retrieved from https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/725452-pakistan-ranked-top-in-asia-for-social-protection-amid-covid-19

Tonby & Woezel. Could the next normal emerge from Asia? McKinsey & Company, April 8. 2020

Trimi, S. Technology, innovation, and the COVID-19 pandemic, Decision Line, 51(3), 32-37. 2020

University of Washington. Is Divorce Seasonal? UW Research Shows Biannual Spike in Divorce Filings. Published online 16 August, 2016. Available online https://www.newswise.com/articles/is-divorce-seasonal-uw-research-shows-biannual-spike-in-divorce-filings

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COVID-19 and Digital Inequality: What role Telecom sector can play in Pakistan and beyond?

“While the internet is an important resource in efforts to stay informed and proceed with daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, these online approaches to reducing risk are not available to everyone in the same way. There are several challenges, Pakistan is confronting at the domestic front, however a less obvious, yet nonetheless an important, issue that the digital divide is complicating efforts to respond to the challenge of pandemic government and society face collectively. Indeed, a private sector, and especially Telecom, should come forward, during this pandemic, and finds ways to bridge the digital divide as quickly as possible through reliable and cost-effective (subsidize, affordable) internet and broadband services, which became a matter of life and death in Pakistan”

Like many other developing countries, the majority of Pakistani households do not have physical access to the internet, primarily due to low income and poverty. As per recent research of Digital Rights Foundation (2020)[i], internet access in Pakistan stands at around 35 percent, with 78 million broadband and 76 million mobile internet (3/4G) connections. According to the Inclusive Internet Index 2019[ii], Pakistan fell into the last quartile of index countries, ranking 76 out of a 100; particularly low on indicators pertaining to affordability[iii]. the broadband internet is not affordable for large segments of the population and many can only afford limited mobile internet packages. As more services move from offline to digital, it is evident that a new inequality trend-the digital gap is emerging, which can exacerbate the pandemic and human health situation, since a significant disadvantage(s) arises when it comes to accessing the real-time information people need to respond to COVID-19. This is a problem not only for people without broadband access, but also for society as a whole as we struggle to flatten the COVID-19 curve.

In Pakistan, besides the structural inequalities such as class, gender, location, ability, and ethnicity, the internet access is undercut by its affordability, and severe economic pressure during the pandemic, as more and more people are losing jobs, calling for an immediate response from donors, government and particularly service providers, the Telecom sector.

While, several other organizations, are trying to support marginalized communities, teachers, and students, I am curious whether the telecom sector has any plan to give relief to the people in the time of pandemic? The average cost of call and internet is neither subsidized nor any free data packages are announced via Corporate Social Responsibility. Here are some benefits of providing free access to the internet during the time of pandemic:

1. Reduce informational asymmetries between service providers and people in need (it includes NGOs, public sector organizations, and academic institutions)

2. Speed up or facilitating registration and data acquisition process for social safety nets and other relief operations

3. Help to connect with families for overseas relatives, students and provides social cushioning and mental relief in the time of panic and when social and mainstream media is creating sensitization.

4. Reduce internet poverty which may result in reducing informational blockages and/digital inequality, consequently improve families social and economic conditions. Because, freelancers and others have access to such internet facilities and they can work from home as well as reduce pressures on employers.

5. It also helps telecom by increasing their demand, and may enhance their profits as a proportion of society may opt for companies that have better and low-cost internet and call services, making them have more customers. Thus, we urge the Telco to come up to support and take a lead to reduce digital inequality and help communities to fight against the Corona virus pandemic.

However, the Government besides other measures and policy response, must also enable Telco to perform its duties unrestricted, ensure that the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) assists and facilitate the Telco to increase the bandwidth capacity in Pakistan as a whole, but significantly, in the marginalize areas of Baluchistan, Federally administrated tribal areas and Gilgit-Baltistan. It also is imperative for government and Telco to ensure citizen’s privacy and Cyberthreats, and reduce vulnerable towards unreliable internet connections at a time when the internet is tied to essential services. Last but not least, the government and service providers should also ensure rapid response towards establishing and revisiting the existing infrastructure, since it may lead to slow-downs or malfunction during this increasing demand, and flow of data and information.


[1] Program Director, M&S Research Hub, Germany


[i] Joint Statement by Digital Rights Foundation and BoloBhi: The Digital Gap During the COVID-19 Pandemic is Exasperating, March 31, 2020, Inequalitieshttps://digitalrightsfoundation.pk/joint-statement-by-digital-rights-foundation-and-bolobhi-the-digital-gap-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-is-exasperating-inequalities/

[ii] Inclusive Internet Index (2019). Retrieved at https://theinclusiveinternet.eiu.com/

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Pakistan Hidden Treasure: Policy Agenda for Integrating People with Disabilities in Education and Development

In Pakistan, estimates of the number of persons living with disabilities (PwD) vary between 3.3m and 27m, depending on whether they are based on government statistics or estimated by other agencies or sources[1]. Although the country made early attempts to include persons with disabilities in the 1980s by introducing educational and employment policies, setting up special schools for persons with disabilities, and employing a quota-based system and levies, still these efforts proved to be ineffective, and People with disabilities (PwD) still have difficulty exercising their civil and political rights, attending quality schools and finding gainful employment. This ultimately means that they are being excluded as productive members of society, leading to economic losses of as much as US$11.9bn-15.4bn for Pakistan[2]. Since, most of the current policy and programmed-approaches to disability have largely been focused on rehabilitation, welfare, medical support or charity, the people with disabilities continue to face myriad challenges. Though, the country ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) in 2011, to include right-based approaches towards PwD, the progress around building an “inclusive education” instead of segregated “Special education” for PwD has been slow and ineffective.

When it comes to the educational facilities and policies for children with disabilities in Pakistan, they are at a two-fold disadvantage[3]. The recent estimates by UNESCO suggest that as many as 1.4 million children with disabilities are left without access to either inclusive or special schools[4]. While, the government strategy has been primarily to offer education for children and adults with disabilities in separate “Special schools”, there are several drawbacks, including that these facilities are inadequate and accessible to only a small proportion of children with disabilities. According to the British Council, “there are 330 special education schools in Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Most of these schools are in urban areas, which makes education for persons with disabilities in rural areas a challenge and 50% of children with disabilities have access to such schools. They are costly from a public budget standpoint and keep children excluded from the rest of society. Even if there is an “Access”, these special schools vary in the “quality of education” and often have inadequate support in terms of “pedagogy and lack of proper instructors/teachers”, making “quality a question mark”[5].

This exclusion has an economic cost too, as estimates from the World Bank, and Economist Intelligence Unit suggests that by 2018 the costs of exclusion of disabled persons from employment towards Pakistan’s could reach US$20bn a year. The current base is US$12bn, and these costs will continue to rise each year—that’s approximately US$5.5m per day, every day[6]. Other socio-economic reasons also come into play. Families may simply be too poor to send their children to either public or private school, or there are limited transport options where schools are far away. Beyond needing the means for schooling, the social stigma also leads many parents to withhold their children from available schooling and there is also a huge drop-out rate for children with disabilities. In the case of girls, families are too protective, as well as worried about safety and sexual harassment or violence (rape), when it comes to handicapped girls. There are also gender-biases, especially where families belong to ultra-conservative or marginalize communities from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, where even normal girls are withheld from education.

Therefore, considering a high drop-out rate, scarcity of teachers, insufficient resources, poor infrastructure, social and cultural practices, discriminatory stigmas, attitudes of the parents and difficulties in transitioning to higher levels of education, we need following key steps towards “inclusive education” strategies/program for persons with disabilities at Government and community level:

  1. Develop a comprehensive set of laws to protect the rights and dignity of persons, especially Children and Girls with disabilities in all aspects of living. This includes laws that protect them regardless of their age, gender or caste to discourage discrimination, provide inclusive education, improve educational infrastructure, build teacher’s capacities and transportation, use ICT4 Special Education and upgrade the curricula and quota system.
  2. Strengthen existing ministerial and government departments on special education, and develop a rigorous monitoring system to not only implement PwD’s laws and policies but use available resources wisely and evaluate their performance through key performance indicators. The existing mechanism has to be revamped both at Federal, provincial and local government levels and more representation should be given to the people with disabilities, so they can help in devising better policies and laws. It is also imperative that donors and other stakeholder resources and funds for education for PwD are maintained through external/internal evaluation and proper and regular monitoring is followed.
  3. In order to tackle access, and limited governmental resources to build new schools, the Pakistani government can use available resources through upgrading existing “stand-alone special schools” by integrating them into the “regular schooling system”in remotes areas. Since available Special education promotes segregation, but if the inclusive educational system is promoted, persons with disabilities can be taught in the same classroom as mainstream students, making educational services more accessible and affordable. However, the government must ensure that traditional schools are equipped with proper facilities, resources and ensure effective training of instructors to teach PwD.
  4. The government should invest in school capacity development, and utilizing youth, which can offer summer schools for PwD. Similarly, changes in school infrastructure and investment in better teacher training is equally significant to reduce disparities towards PwD.
  5. Similarly, Innovative community-based mechanisms can also reduce the burden on the government. There are successful examples in Pakistan, such as the using digital technologies/ICT to educate people with disabilities[7] distance and e-learning programs[8], as well as the Lady Health Worker Programme and several similar community-based mechanisms, which can help in educating PwD, building awareness, changing attitudes and driving change as well as reaching marginalize communities and to serve/educate PwD in a cost-effective way.
  6. At the Community level, government and community-based organizations, can work with religious leaders, Maddaris(religious schools), and non-formal educational facilities can be utilize to cater needs of education for PwD. Mosques can be used for “workshop along with worship” as they are frequently available and can be used for “people Welfare. These available resources also need proper mechanisms and facilities through citizen-government initiatives.
  7. The existing Disabled people’s organizations (DPOs)[9] need to work together with government, private organizations, schools such as Allied/ Bacon House School System and local communities to ensure a united front that communicates change from a rights-based approach. These DPOs largely focused on a charity or medical aid, which are both important services, especially where the government falls short, however, there needs to be better awareness of communities, reducing parental biases, stigmas and fears the need for broader change.
  8. Last but not least, to improve the economic condition of the families having people with disabilities, government, Non-profit organizations, corporations (as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility CSR) and DPOs should focus on enhancing such families economic resources, provide them social safety nets and other employments, so they can invest in their children and PwD more effectively.

In conclusion, inclusive, adaptive and innovative mechanisms supported at government and community level, will further efforts to achieve the educational outcomes for the people with disabilities and improve their status in contributing towards Pakistan’s economy as a productive member.


[1] The Economist; Intelligence Unit, Moving from the Margins; August 2014 and Information from the National Forum Supporting Women with Disabilities Emerging Concept of Women with Disabilities

[2] Moving from the margins: Mainstreaming persons with disabilities in Pakistan – produced in 2014  by the Economist Intelligence Unit for the British Council

[3] Ibd

[4] Daily times (2014). 1.4m disabled Pakistani children have no access to schools says Dr. Kozue Kay Nagata, Director UNESCO Islamabad. Available on http://unesco.org.pk/education/documents/2014/efa_week/national_forum/pc_DailyTimes.pdf

[5] Ibd

[6] Ibd

[7] See for instance “ICT and AT4DPwDs” at http://ict4dpwd.ning.com and www.telecentre.org/group/telecentrefordisabilities.providing some successful apps and technologies mainstreaming education for PwD.

[8] Helping the disabled: AIOU opens e-learning centre for visually impaired. Published in Express Tribune, Oct. 26th, 2015. Retrieved at https://tribune.com.pk/story/979070/helping-the-disabled-aiou-opens-e-learning-centre-for-visually-impaired/?amp=1

[9] Disability organizations in Pakistan. Available at https://disabilityict4d.wordpress.com/pakistan/

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