By: Er. Prabhat Kishore
The National Education Policy 2020 emphasizes the importance of creating enabling mechanisms for providing Children With Special Needs (CWSN) or Divyang, the same opportunities of obtaining quality education as any other child.
UN convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities, 2006 accentuates the need of effective access to free and compulsory primary and secondary education for children with disabilities. The National Curriculum Framework on school education (NCF-2005) recommends for making the curriculum flexible and appropriate to accommodate the diversity of school children including those with disabilities in both cognitive and non-cognitive areas.
The Right of Children to free and compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 provides for children’s right to an education of equitable quality based on principles of equity and non-discrimination. It mandates inclusion of children with special needs (CWSN). The amendment of RTE Act (in June 2012) has included the children with multiple disabilities and severe disability with the right to opt for Home Based Education (HBE).
Given the shift in the approach to development of school education from input based to outcome based central sector interventions as envisaged in the document entitled, India: Three Year Action Agenda, 2017-18 to 2019-20 (NITI Aayog, 2017), a “paradigm shift” is envisaged in the approach to central sector spending on school education. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Education states that “By 2030, ensure equal access to all levels of education & vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities”.
The “Samagra Shiksha”, a centrally sponsored educational scheme, aims to look at education of all children including children with special needs (CWSN), studying in Government, local body and Government-aided schools, in a continuum from pre nursery to class XII.
The scheme covers all children with special needs with one or more out of 21 disabilities as mentioned in schedule of The Right of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act, 2016, namely: (1) Locomotor Disability, (2) Leprosy Cured person, (3) Cerebral Palsy, (4) Dwarfism, (5) Muscular Dystrophy, (6) Acid Attack victims, (7) Blindness, (8) Low-vision, (9) Hearing Impairment (Deaf), (10) Hard of Hearing, (11) Speech and Language Disability, (12) Intellectual Disability, (13) Specific Learning Disabilities, (14) Autism Spectrum Disorder, (15) Mental Illness, (16) Chronic Neurological conditions, (17) Multiple Sclerosis, (18) Parkinson’s disease, (19) Hemophilia, (20) Thalassemia, (21) Sickle Cell Disease, and Multiple Disabilities.
The scheme stresses on working in convergence with all the line Departments/Ministries and intends to provide relevant holistic support for effective and appropriate services.
Objectives of the scheme:
- Identification of children with disabilities at the school level and assessment of her/his educational needs,
- Provision of aids and appliances, assistive devices, to the children with special needs as per requirement,
- Removal of architectural barriers in schools so that students with disability have access to classrooms, laboratories, libraries and toilets in the school,
- Supplying appropriate teaching learning materials, medical facilities, vocational training support, guidance & counselling services and therapeutic services to children with special needs as per his/her requirement in convergence with line departments,
- Sensitisation & training of General school teachers to teach and involve children with special needs in the general classroom. For existing special educators, capacity building programmes will be undertaken,
- CWSN will have access to support services through special educators, establishment of resource rooms, vocational education, therapeutic services and counselling.
- Training of general teachers in the field of disability to enable them to cater the needs of all category of CWSN & use of ICT,
- Surgical correction of different categories of CWSN,
- Provision of school readiness and skill development programme for MR, HI, VI & SI,
- Provision of low vision devices,
- Provision of all sorts of equipment to Resource Centre & Day Care Centre,
- Provision for maintenance of Resource Centre & Day Care Centre,
- Provision of Braille Books to all enrolled CWVI,
- Provision of Large Print Books for CWLV
- Provision of scholarship to girls CWSN,
- Provision of reader/writer allowances,
- Provision of support to HBE,
- Girls with disabilities will receive special focus and efforts would be made under the scheme to help them gain access to schools, as also to provide motivation and guidance for developing their potential.
Provision of up to Rs. 3500 per child, per year have been made for children with special needs studying in government, government aided and local body schools as per specific proposal. This will include aids and appliances, teaching material, etc.
For providing resource support to CWSN, provision of special educators as per requirement would be done. The special educators should be qualified and registered with the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). These educators should mandatorily be available for all CWSNs including the children with high support needs as well. The educators may be posted at the school, cluster or block level as per the requirement and can operate in an itinerant mode, covering a group of schools where children with special needs are enrolled. Provision of stipend for CWSN girls Rs. 200 per month for 10 months, for pre-primary to senior secondary would be made.
There is provision of Rs. 10000 per camp for block level identification camps for early identification of all categories of disabilities defined under the PwD Act, Rs. 2 lakh for equipment in Block resource Centre (once in 5 years) for rehabilitation & special training of CWSN and capacity building of special educators & Block Resource Persons.
Key areas :
Education for CWSN involves multiple aspects above and beyond the financial support for CWSN. Many areas have to be looked upon manifestly that will ensure proper implementation and effective inclusion. The areas includes:
- Education of teachers and other stakeholders,
- Curriculum access,
- Individualized education plan (IEP),
- Building synergy with special schools,
- Research and Development,
- Social access to CWSN, such as Parental training, Peer sensitization, Awareness, Awareness building of different stakeholders across all levels, Special emphasis will be given to education of girls with disability.
Monitoring & evaluation:
On-going monitoring and evaluation should be carried out to refine the programme on regular basis. For this, appropriate monitoring mechanisms and tools are to be devised at every level and field tested at regular intervals. (The author is a technocrat & academician)