In a move that will bring relief to hundreds of parents, the government plans to introduce a policy that mandates zero rejection for children with disabilities in all educational institutions and hostels. All formal schools, including, aided and unaided ones, will be covered under the policy.
The draft policy on Education of Children With Special Needs (CWSN) released by the department of education (primary and secondary) recently, has seven non-negotiable principles that is expected to take inclusive education to a whole new level in the state.
“Not providing admission to children with disabilities in regular schools is a violation of human rights, which shall be penalized… Every educational institution shall have an accessible environment,” reads the policy.
The policy aims to “provide free and compulsory education to children with disabilities, as defined under the Physical Disabilities Act, with child-centric programmes in convergence with other departments.” It states that all pre-service and in-service teacher-training programmes should give adequate weightage to theory and practice in inclusive education.
School buildings must incorporate ramps, accessible classrooms, drinking water facilities, toilets, playgrounds, laboratories and libraries. Ramps with railings, appropriate boards for the visually impaired and enhanced acoustics have also been proposed.
Explaining the need for such a policy, Mohammed Mohsin, commissioner, department of public instruction, said: “At present, the government runs various programmes for CWSN. There are, however, no guidelines for effective implementation. Enforcement is, therefore, a problem.”
According to a 2011 survey conducted under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Karnataka, the state has 2,12,858 children with special needs in the age group of 0-18. Apart from two national policies (National Policy on Education, 1986 and the Programme of Action, 1992) which gives a basic framework on education at the national level, and a policy on disability Karnataka brought into force in 2007, there are no other policies for disabled children in the state.
What it proposes
- Identify children to be included in regular census of the education department, with training of teachers and functionaries at different levels
- Develop scientific identification checklist for right identification
- Every child with special needs should be placed in neighbourhood schools, with support services
- Ensure transportation or escort facilities
- School readiness programmes like training in mobility and Braille, sign language and postural training
- Curriculum should be accessible to CWSN and adequate measures to be taken for adaptation
- Vocational training should be included
- Free supply of textbooks, assistive devices
- Extra time to complete tests
- Spelling concessions in tests
- Exemption from 2nd and 3rd languages, if need be
- Alternative questions if required for the blind
- Inclusive parks for recreation
- Convergence with health department for medical assistance
- Partnership with NGOs
- Special committees to ensure implementation
- Disabilities covered
- Speech impairment
- Learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Muscular dystrophy
- Multiple disabilities
- Mental illness
- Low vision
- Locomotor disability
- Persons cured of leprosy
- Intellectual disability
- Hard of hearing
- Hearing impairment (loss of 60 decibels)
- Chronic neurological conditions
- Cerebral palsy
- Autism spectrum disorders
Change in name?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, 2006 (ratified by India in 2007), has made disability a human rights issue and RTE 2009 has made education a fundamental right, which implies that the issue of special needs has to been seen from a rights perspective. Therefore, we can no longer call them children with special needs as the special need is their primary need. We need to call them ‘children with disabilities’ in place of ‘children with special needs’.
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/Schools-may-not-be-able-to-reject-disabled-children/articleshow/35916264.cms