Education for the disabled- a topic which still requires our attention towards it. With development in the form of globalization and industrialization taking place all around the world, do we think often about this group of children who have a tough time in getting education due to their physical condition?
In the post-independence period, India has witnessed phenomenal changes in the area of education; but the same does not hold for education for the disabled. It does not means that nothing has been done for the benefit of this group, but it takes a lot of work to execute those plans. Factors like lack of qualified teachers and sheltered environment adds to this. To overcome all these problems, the government introduced the integrated education for disabled children (IEDC) in 1974.
Children with disabilities constitute one of the largest groups that are still outside the fold of the general education system. The 93rd amendment of the constitution of India has made education in the 6-14 years age group mandatory for all children to be brought under the fold of education. This includes children with disability. Under the existing IEDC Scheme it has not been possible to cover all disabled children primarily because implementation has been based on receipt of viable proposals from the implementing agencies.
No conscious effort has been made to target all disabled children. As Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) supports inclusion of children with special needs at the early childhood education and elementary education level, it is desirable to introduce a scheme for the disabled children at secondary stage. The scheme for IEDSS (Inclusive Education of the Disabled at the secondary stage) is therefore envisaged to enable all children and young persons with disabilities to have access to secondary education and to improve theirÂ enrollment, retention and achievement in the general education system. Under the scheme every school is proposed to be made disabled-friendly. There are many schemes and programmes launched by the government regarding education for the disabled. For instance programmes like Sarva Siksha Abhiyan also has a provision of Rs. 1200 to be spent on children with disabilities identified with the district.
Leaving aside these legal rights and schemes, although inclusive education is introduced in India, let us face the reality now. Merely launching such schemes and programmes are not enough for the development of these deprived children. In reality, what we see in today’s society is in stark contrast to these programmes and acts. Most of the schools and colleges still do not have the best facilities to incorporate these children in their classes.
As they have different needs and these needs require special attention, it becomes all the more important for the schools to pay attention in fulfilling them, which they fail to do. For instance, having a blind student in a class of normal children is a different challenge altogether. But these schools must adapt themselves to serve themselves for the best of the disabled children who should be able to enjoy the fundamental right to education and equality. They should be able to give all the facilities which the children with special needs require. Even where we have laws, we do not have clear implementation. According to one study, Indians spend Rs 72,000 crore per annum in caring for their disabled family members.
The government bears only a fraction of this cost! The most fearful part is that by the time these laws are implemented to the fullest, it might be too late for these excluded people who are struggling in every field; be it education or employment. We should pay special focus on the fact that there are 70 million disabled in India, out of which only a shocking 2% are educated! Shocking indeed, isn’t it? Let us think about it!