It certainly would be no hyperbole to state that not much has been done for the betterment and upliftment of the differently-abled, especially in Indian higher education. With limited opportunities at their disposal, people with disabilities are often forced to do odd jobs.
According to a report published in Al-Jazeera in December 2017, approximately 63 million people in India are hearing impaired. Now, that’s a staggering number, isn’t it? It goes without saying that not many people suffering from hearing impairments are able to get access to quality education.
But, the problem just isn’t limited to the lack of education. The social stigma associated with the disability also acts as a major deterrent and affects the disabled students badly. With not much opportunities at hand, they are forced to look for jobs within the unorganised sector.
Here is another staggering number. Nearly 99% of those with hearing impairments in India don’t even hold a matriculation certificate. This speaks volumes about the sorry state of the differently people within our country.
Let’s do some more number crunching. According to the 2011 census, a whopping 9.9 million differently-abled people, out of the total population of 13.4 million within the age group of 15-59 years, were either non-workers or undertaking marginal work.
Around 8 years down the line, the winds of change can be seen getting stronger. In a bid to uplift the students suffering from hearing disabilities, the Chief Minister of Assam, Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone to establish the North East College for Hearing Impaired. The college would provide higher education to the students suffering from hearing disabilities. Students from other Northeastern states would also be eligible for admission.
According to Sonowal, the college would fulfill the dreams and aspirations for students suffering from acute hearing disabilities. Presently, not many students with hearing disabilities can be seen pursuing higher education and the government wants to change the scenario. Sonowal had also established the country’s first ITI (Industrial Training Institute) in Dibrugarh for the education and upliftment of people suffering from hearing disabilities back in 2017.
Sonowal also claimed that not many steps have been taken to uplift the differently-abled people by the Indian National Congress. He further added that ever since BJP’s rise to power in the state, a lot of steps for the upliftment of the differently-abled can be seen taking place. ₹5000 is already being provided to the differently-abled students as financial help to meet the medical expenses. Additionally, a sum of ₹1000 is also being provided to these students ‘for their dignity.’
The decision to establish a special college can also be seen as the BJP’s attempt to go for a last-over big hit. With Lok Sabha polls around the corner, this move may turn out to be quite a game changer.