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Education industry 2017-08-31

Special education in India needs to be boosted

There is an urgent need of Special Educators to be absorbed in various educational institutions in India

By Uttara.J. MalhotraFeature writer

The Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) took a bold step, when it enrolled more than 2,000 children with disabilities in over 40 schools under their inclusive education project, in which students with disabilities were included in the same classroom with other students. Socially termed differently-abled children are still considered as those with ‘disabilities’. Undeniably, their educational, emotional and psychological needs are distinct and specific.

Also, with ‘inclusion’ becoming mandatory for mainstream private schools all over India, the awareness about educating children with special needs is on an obvious increase, leading to a natural demand for special educators in India.

Reality Check
It is indeed a challenge for parents with children who have special needs, to find accepted inclusion in schools. About the challenges faced as a special educator, Dr Anupriya Chadha, a chief consultant at the National Level for Inclusive Education for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Right to Education (a programme under the ministry of human resource development) shared with the media, “Principals are not forthcoming to include such differently abled children. They still function on a notion that regular schools are only meant for certain type of children. Further, schools do not have the infrastructure or facilities to handle this category of students; though things are on the improvement side.”

In 2015, looking at the struggle of differently abled children, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) had already made it mandatory for all affiliated schools to appoint a special educator so that children with learning disabilities find acceptance with other students. Apart from the Central Board's philosophy of "inclusive practices" in schools, this directive has also been necessitated due to strict guidelines of the Right to Education Act (RTE).

Teachers in Demand
Undeniably, special educators are in demand. For example, Government of Tamil Nadu is all in favour of including certain components of special education in the curriculum in all the colleges of teacher education in the country. This is in light of the fact that there are plenty of opportunities for special educators, in India and in other countries. Currently, those holding a degree in B.Ed or M.Ed in special education could also seek employment as counsellors.

Speaking over the urgent need of professionally trained special educators in India, Hector Ravinder Dutt, Principal of Delhi Public School, Rohak and Founder of the Association of Special Educators and Allied Professionals (ASEAP) shares that, “According to the 2011 Census, India has over 2.70 crore people living with disability. For a population of this size, India needs minimum 15 lakh special educators to address their needs in the true sense. At the same time, we need a concrete policy for their training to make them employable by inculcating the required skills, knowledge and professional ethic.”

The Road Ahead
Data reveals that since 2016, over 25 lakh school students in India have been identified as Children with Special Needs (CwSNs) who need attention. However, sadly, the concerned authorities have failed to create a post for Special Educators (SEs) in various schools, to cater to the needs of such students.

Inclusion still needs a lot of education to go into mainstream principals and administrators who are refusing to take onus of the fact that currently India is facing the biggest challenge of having one child out of 5 born with some or the learning disability of physical handicap. 

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