Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced a number of initiatives on Monday aimed at empowering Egyptians with disabilities, and highlighting the state’s efforts to integrating them into society.
In a speech during the seventh annual Cairo Information Technology Convergence and Services for People with Disabilities conference, El-Sisi announced the establishment of the National Academy for Information and Communication Technology for People with Special Needs. He said the academy would operate to the highest standards to train those with special needs to help them secure job opportunities.
El-Sisi also announced the establishment of a technological institute for people with disabilities, which he said would be the first of its kind in Africa.
The centre will make use of technologies to assist those with hearing and communication disabilities, El-Sisi said, adding that he hoped the centre would become a regional hub.
“We aspire to be a society whose sons are all equal in rights and duties, and there is no mean to accomplish this except through using technology as a pathway to help us reach a realistic applicable model,” he said.
He also announced an initiative which would provide easy access to government online portals.
The conference saw video presentations highlighting the achievements of several young people with disabilities as well as calls by some attendees for more rights for those with disabilities. Several young people were then honoured by the president.
“Today is the happiest day of my life…as I stand with my sons with disabilities,” El-Sisi said in a speech following the presentations, adding that the achievements made by some of the speakers had given him a “positive push.”
He said that state efforts to support people with special needs come under the plan whereby Egypt seeks to “build the Egyptian person,” and added that the state is working on integrating people with special needs into its national strategy on sustainable development.
He said Egypt will exert more efforts to meet the demands of people with special needs, including the implementation of a plan to ensure 5 percent of job vacancies are allocated to those with disabilities.
According to Article 81 from Egypt’s 2014 constitution, the state must provide work opportunities for individuals with disabilities, and allocate a percentage of these opportunities to them, in addition to adequate equipping public utilities and the surrounding environment.
“I thank you for the messages of hope you delivered to us through your abilities to overcome hardships and turn them into points of strength,” El-Sisi concluded.
Monday marked the first time the president had participated in the conference.
The president designated 2018 as the Year of People with Disabilities.