Nearly 200 children with special needs, representing various schools, visited the Sri Lankan Parliament at the invitation of the Parliamentary Forum for Persons with Disabilities, today (04). This visit symbolized the International Day of the Disabled Community, celebrated yesterday (03).
Upon their arrival at the public gallery of the Parliament, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena welcomed the group of students, marking a historic occasion where almost 200 children with special needs visited the Parliament for the first time. The Speaker extended his best wishes to all children with special needs in Sri Lanka.
During the visit, the students had the opportunity to meet several prominent figures, including President of the Parliamentary Forum for People with Special Needs Member of Parliament Dallas Alahapperuma, Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms President’s Advocate Wijayadasa Rajapaksa, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, and Member of Parliament Sudarshini Fernandopulle.
Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reform announced that the work on the bill to protect the rights of people with special needs is in the final stage. He urged all members of Parliament to support the process.
The Minister of Education highlighted the challenge of providing interactive education for children with special needs and emphasized that new education reforms can overcome this challenge. The Minister also mentioned plans to establish a separate facility for early identification of disabilities in children and provide necessary treatment.
Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa called for a constitutional amendment to include the rights of people with disabilities in the constitution’s basic rights. He also advocated for a revision of the tax policy to avoid taxing communities with disabilities.
The visit included information sessions by the Public Service Division of the Parliamentary Communications Department, providing insights into parliamentary facilities and processes. The program was coordinated by Rasanjali Pathirage, President of the Organizations of Persons with Special Needs Joint Front (DOJF), with support from the National Democratic Institute (NDI).