Thursday, September 22, 2016

Structural Changes in Govt. Schools with NGOs on Board to ensure disabled children actually learn

Dear colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post titled 'Delhi Govt. focuses on students with disabilities in Govt. Schools- thanks to Working Groups with NGOs'. Here is an updated report on the project by Shreya Roy Chowdhury of TNN, wherein the 6 working groups have moved ahead on many areas and the Delhi Govt. is hoping that through these interventions, the children with disabilities enrolled in govt. schools will actually learn:


Shreya Roy Chowdhury | TNN | Updated: Sep 22, 2016, 12.04 AM IST

New Delhi: Through a number of interventions, Delhi government is hoping to ensure that disabled children in its schools actually learn. Taking disability-sector NGOs on board, the Directorate of Education has established six working groups to address different aspects of education for such kids—teacher training, aids and resources, even "structural changes" in the administration. "Disability mapping" is on the cards and on September 15, the government issued a list of 14 schools in different school districts where accessible "resource centres" will be built.

There are about 20,000 'children with special needs' or CWSN in Delhi government schools. The Right to Education Act's insistence on inclusivity and accessibility has increased enrollment but activists argue the system is not up to scratch. Now, even the government agrees. The minutes of a June 2016 meeting organised by the government with NGOs says, "The issue of mismatch of expertise of Special Education Teachers (SETs) and needs of CWSN was raised. Disability mapping of CWSN should be the first step." The meeting was attended by directorate officials and representatives of many organisations.

"The special educators are single-disability trained. We have offered to train in cross-disability and inclusive education so that they can help children and teachers," says G Syamala of Action for Ability Development and Inclusion.

The DoE's meeting minutes explain that each working group will include two NGOs (or institutes) and one department official. One will work exclusively on learning disabilities — help identify children who have them, "finalize...tools for assessment of learning disabilities", "provide lucid instructions for...teachers", "prepare training module for assessment of these children."

Another will develop teaching aids. There'll be a central resource library in every zone — 29 libraries distributed over 13 school districts. These will serve as repositories of resources for special educators, teachers, parents and the kids themselves. The All India Confederation of the Blind has offered to work with the Delhi Bureau of Text Books to producing Braille and large-print texts.

Members also agreed on developing "zonal resource centres" — essentially one school in a zone capable of extra support — for children "with severe disability." This, however, doesn't mean more 'special' schools — fundamentally contrary to the idea of inclusion. "Recipient[s] of these services (CWSN) will study in their schools" and the centres will offer "specialized services". Major changes to the administration are also being considered including creation of special posts to implement programmes and monitor.

The AICB president AK Mittal has sent the DoE a list of other suggestions including "orientation and mobility" training for the visually challenged, "expanded core curriculum activities" for disabled children and "school-mapping for the placement of special educators."


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