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Nearly 10 percent of all disabled people in Burma are currently attending high school, but their chances of getting jobs when they leave are slim, according to a 2012 report by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
For those living with a physical, visual or mental impairment, work is difficult to find, and the chance to lead independent lives is nearly impossible.
Bo Htun has used a wheelchair since he was a child when nerve damage in his legs left him paralysed.
Determined to remain self-reliant, he took to the streets of Rangoon in a modified wheelchair where he made a living repairing umbrellas.
“I wanted to earn a living on my own,” he said. “I don’t make much money but I am satisfied with my daily earnings. Now my wife and I live freely and happily.”
But most Burmese children with disabilities are not so fortunate or self-sufficient. Many lack basic literacy skills, and only a small fraction complete formal education and go on to find employment.
Hta Uke, the founder of the Eden Centre for Disabled Children, believes education is vital for handicapped children, and has called for the government to introduce a disability rights law.
“It is very important that disabled children go to school and have equal rights,” he said.
“Their lives are just as valuable as anyone else’s, and they strive to be of great help to their communities.”
Unless effective action is taken by the government to improve opportunities for people with disabilities, many more will struggle to retain their independence.