Budgam: Despite tall claims by the government to impart inclusive education among children with special needs (CWSNs), only four specialised teachers are available in the district to impart education to over 2800 students.
With inclusive education being given emphasis in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’s (SSA) focus has been to ensure that every CWSN should be placed in neighborhood schools.
Sources form the education department, on basis of anonymity, said Budgam has 2896 disabled students on roll as on date.
Out of these 291 students are studying in classes 9 to 12 while as the rest study in lower classes.
However, Budgam has only four teachers with special training to impart education to them.
Despite having a huge number of special students on roll there is no separate school for them in the district.
After conducting camps and assessing the nature of disability, the SSA has provided aids and appliances to cater to their needs. But officials and teachers working at the grassroots say the inadequate number of trained teachers is a major challenge.
Ten-year-old Sameer Ahmad Khan, who has cerebral palsy, is happiest when at school. He is a student of class 3 at the Government School, Gomboora.
His father, Ali Mohammad, says there has been a remarkable change in his motor abilities after two years of formal education.
“Although he is mostly bound to the wheelchair, he now walks a few steps,” he says. But, Ali’s only grouse is that his son has not seen much improvement academically. “He cannot even identify letters,” he says.
As per the evaluation techniques for CWSN chalked out by the Sarva SSA, Sameer’s teacher is not only supposed to make him physically comfortable in class, but also change her teaching methods for his sake. Children with cerebral palsy should be taught at three levels, with concrete things or objects, through pictures, and finally in the abstract.
“There are some teaching aids in class meant just for him. But, he does not know how to use them. Even though the teacher pays attention to his needs, how much attention can he pay to him alone? After all there are 30 (normal) children in his class,” Ali said.
Earlier, each block had three inclusive education resource teachers (IERTs) and two outsourced staff trained as per the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) norms.
But after the Ministry of Human Resource Development issued directions last year that staff who were not trained as per the RCI norms would not receive salary, the SSA had to relieve the IERTs and depute them to government schools as teachers. According to sources in the SSA, if any blocks are faced with shortage, they can hire IERTs.
Sources in the SSA said almost all teachers have undergone three to six-day training in special education, which is only an introductory session on the needs of CWSNs.