Children with “severe disabilities” are also being enrolled in mainstream schools under the Inclusive Education for Disabled (IED) scheme of the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) this year.
“So far, children with mild and moderate disabilities were accepted by schools. With the Right to Education Act, it has been made mandatory for schools to enrol all children,” says K. Abdul Wahab, district co-ordinator, IED-SSA.
According to Mr. Wahab, around 273 children with disabilities have been identified and enrolled in day care centres, ICDS and regular schools (government and government-aided) this year, as opposed to around 140 students last year.
Children with severe disabilities are enrolled in schools, but the training for the students is often done at the day-care centres or resource rooms run by NGOs such as The Spastics Society of Tamilnadu and Vidya Sagar. If the child cannot visit the centres, resource persons provide home-based care. “But at least once in a week, the children are taken to the schools and introduced to the school environment. The frequency of such visits is gradually increased,” says V. Santhalatha, resource teacher, IED-SSA.
The peer group support provided by other children and socialisation helps in the development of the children, says M. Jeeva Azhakannan, coordinator, IED programme from The Spastics Society of Tamilnadu, emphasising the need to move children from special schools to regular schools.
But teachers also say that until the children become familiar with the classroom environment it is hard to manage them. The teachers have to spend extra time and care with the students to teach them.
In order to sensitise the public, the SSA along with NGOs organise regular awareness rallies and street plays. Nearly 150 students from CSI Middle School, Purusawalkam, participated in a rally organised here on Wednesday. Similar door-to-door surveys are also being conducted to identify and enrol children in schools.
Over the last few years, there has been greater acceptance of children with disabilities by schools. More parents are also aware of the need to send the children to schools, say officials. “But in Class IX and X many schools are hesitant to accept students. They are concerned that the pass percent of the school would be affected in the process. We try and convince the school authorities that irrespective of whether the students pass or fail in the board exam, they will get a certificate which will benefit them,” says Mr. Wahab
Thanks: the Hindu