VISUALLY impaired youths have called for increased access to education and employment opportunities, saying disability did not necessarily render them incapable of meaningfully contributing to the country’s development.
They made the call at a recent Lesotho National League of Visually Impaired Persons (LNLVIP) workshop on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that was facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Maseru.
The workshop drew visually impaired participants from the country’s ten districts.
According to the UNDP, the SDGs which came into effect in January 2016 “are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity”.
“These 17 Goals build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities.
“The goals are interconnected – often the key to success on one will involve tackling issues more commonly associated with another,” the UNDP says on its website.
LNLVIP President, Mabataung Khetsi told the Sunday Express that in addition to celebrating the youth, the workshop discussed how people with disabilities could be assisted in efforts to attain the SDGs.
“LNLVIP held a youth empowerment workshop to celebrate youth month, and this year the focus was on SDGs as we are aware that disability is referenced in various parts of SDGs especially in parts related to education (Goal four), employment (Goal eight), accessibility (goal 11) and inequality (goal 10),” Ms Khetsi said.
She said people with disabilities needed to be given equal access to education and employment, adding organisations should consider their ability to do the job rather than focus on disability as an obstacle.
“Our main objective is to ensure equal opportunities for persons with visual impairment in terms of education, that is, inclusive equitable quality education and equal access at all levels for learners with visual impairment.
“Again, we seek to ensure full and productive employment for persons with visual impairment, and to ensure inclusive safe and sustainable human settlements for them,” Ms Khetsi said.
She expressed hope that government would spearhead reforms that would benefit people with disabilities in all spheres of public life.