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Government schools not friendly to differently-abled

Government run schools, Special Schooling

Majority of government schools woefully lack facilities for the disabled children and are inaccessible to them says a survey conducted recently by a voluntary organisation.

Taking a sample size of 100 government schools from 22 mandals of four Telangana districts, the Network of Persons with disability Organisation (NPdO) conducted a detailed survey covering all provisions listed in the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 that accords equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation for the disabled.

The questionnaire used for the survey requires headmasters of the schools to provide details about provisions such as special transport for the disabled children, accessibility to toilets, availability of ramp and disabled-friendly furniture, availability of specially trained teachers, special appliances and special education material, grant of scholarships, and details about the existence and functioning status of Parents and Teachers Committee.

“There is not even one school which is equipped to ensure that the needs of the disabled children are met. No school building is disabled-friendly with facilities such as ramp and wheelchair. It is in total violation of the act which enjoins the government to make provisions for transport, removal of architectural barriers, supply of material, scholarships and others,” says Tulasi Das Borade from NPdO.

Many heads of the schools were not aware of scholarships for disabled students, and quite a few schools didn’t have the relevant application forms. In the absence of facilities, parents of the disabled children choose to keep them at home, some times locking them indoors.

This largely explains why nearly 900 children are out of school in these mandals of Adilabad, Karimnagar, Ranga Reddy and Warangal districts. This state of affairs goes quite against the spirit of the centrally sponsored scheme Integrated Education for the Disabled Children. The scheme is designed to integrate children with disabilities of mild to moderate nature in normal schools. It offers 100 per cent financial assistance for transport facilities, books and stationary, uniform, instruction material, assistive equipment, hostel facility within school campus, and removal of architectural barriers, among others. Special educators appointed under Rajiv Vidya Mission who ought to pay door-to-door visits to impart home-based education to severely disabled children have remained largely ineffective in majority of the cases.

“Each special educator is supposed to cover 18 children whom he will visit by turns. But many educators are covering only children who stay nearby, and leaving out those staying in interior locations,” says Mr.Borade. Several educators also hold a second job, which renders fulfilment of their primary job an eyewash, he says.

The Hindu, July 15, 2011

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