Education for CWSN
In our society, there are children with disabilities, who faces discrimination in day to day life. They have certain disability which hampers them to act smoothly. The disability would be of any one or multiple types. Actually a large portion of such children are not handicapped completely, but just in certain fields and have some special requirements in comparison to normal one. Now these children are not termed as “Disabled Child”, but “Child with Special Needs (CWSN)”. To ensure that all children enjoy their basic human rights without discrimination, disability inclusion must be mainstreamed in all policies and plans. This applies to education systems also, which need to promote inclusion by ensuring the presence, participation and achievement of all children, including children with disabilities.
Recommendations in NEP 2020
The National Education Policy 2020 has recognised 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. Para 6.10 to 6.14 of NPE 2020 deals with the provisions and strategies for such category of children.
Children with disabilities will be enabled to fully participate in the regular schooling process from the Pre-Primary Stage to higher education. The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPWD) Act 2016 defines inclusive education as a “system of education wherein students with and without disabilities learn together and the system of teaching and learning is suitably adapted to meet the learning needs of different types of students with disabilities”. This Policy is in complete consonance with the provisions of the RPWD Act 2016 and endorses all its recommendations with regard to school education.
The schools will be provided resources for the integration of children with disabilities, recruitment of special educators with cross-disability training, and for the establishment of resource centres, wherever needed, especially for children with severe or multiple disabilities. Barrier free access for all children with disabilities will be enabled as per the RPWD Act. Schools will work and be supported for providing all children with disabilities accommodations and support mechanisms tailored to suit their needs and to ensure their full participation and inclusion in the classroom. In particular, assistive devices and appropriate technology-based tools, as well as adequate and language-appropriate teaching-learning materials (e.g., textbooks in accessible formats such as large print and Braille) will be made available to help children with disabilities integrate more easily into classrooms and engage with teachers and their peers. This will apply to all school activities including arts, sports, and vocational education. High-quality modules will be developed to teach Indian Sign Language. Adequate attention will be paid to the safety and security of children with disabilities.
As per the RPWD Act 2016, children with benchmark disabilities shall have the choice of regular or special schooling. Resource centres in conjunction with special educators will support the rehabilitation and educational needs of learners with severe or multiple disabilities and will assist parents/guardians in achieving high-quality home schooling and skilling for such students as needed. Home-based education will continue to be a choice available for children with severe and profound disabilities who are unable to go to schools. The children under home-based education must be treated as equal to any other child in the general system. While it is clear that the education of all children with disabilities is the responsibility of the State, technology-based solutions will be used for the orientation of parents/caregivers along with wide-scale dissemination of learning materials to enable parents/caregivers to actively support their children’s learning needs will be accorded priority.
Most classrooms have children with specific learning disabilities who need continuous support. The earlier such support begins, the better the chances of progress. Teachers must be helped to identify such learning disabilities early and plan specifically for their mitigation. Specific actions will include the use of appropriate technology allowing and enabling children to work at their own pace, with flexible curricula to leverage each child’s strengths, and creating an ecosystem for appropriate assessment and certification.
The awareness and knowledge of how to teach children with specific disabilities (including learning disabilities) will be an integral part of all teacher education programmes, along with gender sensitization and sensitization towards all underrepresented groups in order to reverse their under-representation.
Provisions under Samagra Siksha
In Samagra Shiksha, the centrally sponsored Integrated Scheme for School education, there are interventions for inclusive education of CWSN children. The programmatic as well as financial norms of the scheme has been modified in alignment with provisions of NEP 2020.
The key thrust of the programme will be on providing inclusive education to all children with special needs in general schools and funding will be based on data of CWSN provided under UDISE+. The Programme will also support special training, education through open learning system, home schooling, wherever necessary, itinerant teaching, remedial teaching, community based rehabilitation (CBR) and vocational education.
Support for CWSN children as defined in RPWD Act 2016 will be available from ECCE classes in Govt. primary schools to Sr. Secondary level. Resource centres (provision of TLMs) in conjunction with special educators will support the rehabilitation and educational needs of learners with severe or multiple disabilities and will assist parents/guardians in achieving high-quality home schooling and skilling for such students as needed. Block Resource Centers (BRCs), with online/offline facilities of special educators, can also act as Resource centres for learners with severe or multiple disabilities. Provision for Home-based education (HBE) will be available for children with severe and profound disabilities who are unable to go to schools.
In Samagra Shiksha, there is provision of up to Rs. 3500/- per child per year for children with special needs, studying in government, government aided and local body schools. This includes aids and appliances, teaching material, etc. Provision of special educators at cluster/school level as per requirement would be done. The special educators should be qualified and registered with the RCI. 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.
With the spread of inclusive education for CWSN, a positive change can be seen in the people concerned, the family as well as in the society. The access to education and provision of proper resource support has helped these most marginalised sections of the society to lead a better and fulfilling life. In addition to government, the family as well as society should come forward for universalization of education for each and every CWSN child, which in true sense will lead to a “Samriddh, Samarth and Sashakt Bharat”.
(The author is a technocrat & academician)