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(Information Source: BANGLADESH-PROJEKTI, Keskustoimisto Kaupintie 16 B 00440 Helsinki)

It is estimated by the Ministry of Social Welfare that the total number of persons with ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorders), could be as high as 1, 4 million -- of whom only a few hundred have been diagnosed. One estimation is also that one child in 500 in Bangladesh has autism, meaning that the approximate number of children with ASDs in Bangladesh is no less than 280,000. The general attitude towards autism is mostly negative and it is seen as a social barrier.  Even today, autism is considered a God-given curse and children with ASDs are taken as possessed by the Devil. Also bad parenting is accused: mothers going out to work still get the blame.

There is a lack of knowledge about ASDs even among doctors. Very often, children are misdiagnosed and given antipsychotic drugs by psychiatrists. In Bangladesh, there are only 20 schools for disabled children; all of them are situated in the capital city of Dhaka. According to the MDGs, every child has a right to education. However, the general education system in Bangladesh does not meet the needs of disabled children, especially the ones with autism.  


In Bangladesh, there are great obstacles to be met in the educational system. In spite of the National Law to ensure an equal and obligatory education for all children, the problem is that, among the poorest part of the population, children are still kept out of school. These children live in the slums, in the tribal districts, or in the most remote rural areas. Mostly they have to work daily to support their family or else they are physically or mentally challenged.

Education is still mostly the privilege of only the richest elite. Special needs education is lacking or does not meet the groups needing it. Persons with ASDs do not have a possibility for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Also chances to get into a rehabilitation process are poor.

Three billion people are living on less than a dollar a day

In our world, there are almost three billion people living on less than a dollar a day. Eight hundred and forty million people do not have enough to eat. Ten million children die every year from easily preventable diseases. One billion people do not have access to clean water, two billion have no sanitation. About a quarter of children in the poor countries do not finish even the primary school. They work for their living instead of playing and learning. Four billion people, 60 % of the global population live in Asia, the poorest and the most populated continent. In the development cooperation in Asia, the major challenges are: rapidly growing economy, unequal distribution of wealth, economic crises and rising poverty, as well as problems of environmental protection. Besides, the continent has in recent years been afflicted by political upheavals, natural disasters and is facing the end of rapid economic growth.